Gut-bone axis: Probiotic strain may boost bone measure in older women

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© stockdevil / Getty Images
© stockdevil / Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics Limosilactobacillus fermentum Bone health gut-bone axis

Dietary supplementation with a specific strain of probiotic may boost bone measures in postmenopausal women, says a new study from Korea.

Six months of supplementation with Limosilactobacillus fermentum​ SRK414 led to significant increases in the bone mineral density (BMD) in the neck of the femur in the women, compared to placebo.

In addition, the scientists reported that levels of osteocalcin (OC) levels were maintained in the probiotic group, suggesting L. fermentum​ SRK414 enhances bone formation more than resorption.

“Probiotic (L. fermentum​ SRK414) supplementation maintained OC and femur neck BMD without any serious side effects during a 6-months trial in postmenopausal women,” wrote scientists from the Korean Air Force (Armed Force Hampyeong Hospital), Seoul National University, and Korea University in the Journal of Bone Metabolism.

“Further studies with a larger number of participants and a longer study period are required to increase the utility of probiotics as an alternative agent to osteoporosis medication.”

Gut-bone axis

The study adds to the growing body of science supporting the role of the gut microbiota to impact bone health.

A 2019 review in the Journal of Clinical Investigation​ stated: “The gut microbiome is a key regulator of bone health that affects postnatal skeletal development and skeletal involution.

“Alterations in microbiota composition and host responses to the microbiota contribute to pathological bone loss, while changes in microbiota composition that prevent, or reverse, bone loss may be achieved by nutritional supplements with prebiotics and probiotics.”

Study details

The Korean scientists recruited 53 postmenopausal women with an average age of 58 to participate in their prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The women were randomly assigned to receive either placebo (microcrystalline cellulose) or eight billion CFUs per day of L. fermentum​ SRK414 for six months.

The data indicated that there were not significant differences between the two groups for most of the measurements, but SRK414 was found to have a “potentially beneficial effect on OC and BMD of the femur neck during the trial period”.

Specifically, an increase in BMD in the femur neck of about 4% was recorded in the probiotic group, while no changes were recorded in the placebo group.

“Considering the spontaneous loss of 1% to 2% BMD in postmenopausal women, the BMD results of this study could be meaningful,” wrote the researchers. “Furthermore, femur neck fractures could be more morbid than osteoporotic spine fractures, as the former frequently require surgical management.”

In addition, significant decreases in osteocalcin (OC) were recorded in the placebo group, while OC levels were maintained in the probiotic group, and changes in L. fermentum​ levels in the gut were correlated with that in OC levels.

“Our study showed a satisfactory compliance rate and benefits in BTMs [bone turnover markers] and the femur neck with a low dose of L. fermentum SRK414 compared to other probiotic studies (usually over 10 billion CFU). Further studies testing different doses of probiotics would help determine optimal dose for bone health,” wrote the researchers.

Source: Journal of Bone Metabolism
29(4):225-233, doi: 10.11005/jbm.2022.29.4.225
“Effect of ​Lactobacillus Fermentum as a Probiotic Agent on Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women”
Authors: Hee Soo Han et al.

                                                                                                                                       

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