Natural probiotic gives hope to those with osteoporosis
24th May 2013
Those who frequently use affordable stairlifts because they have osteoporosis could soon find an easy way to make their bones healthier according to a new study. Scientists at Michigan State University believe that their discovery could be a significant step towards finding a treatment for osteoporosis that helps produce notably healthier bones.
The study investigated whether or not a natural probiotic supplement could help produce healthier bones in mice. Professor Laura McCabe, lead author of the study, revealed that they already know that bone loss can be caused by inflammation in the gut, and this information led them to investigate if a probiotic that reduces inflammation could improve the health of bones when administered.
Probiotics are known to help balance our immune system and Professor Robert Britton, co-author of the paper, pointed out that we have eaten bacterium in the form of probiotics for thousands of years through the fermentation of food. Professor Britton said that this bacterium has "co-evolved with humans" and could cause problems if missing from our intestinal tract.
The experiment involved feeding lab mice Lactobacillus reuteri, a probiotic which is known to reduce inflammation. After just 4 weeks of treatment, the male mice involved in the test showed a significant increase in bone density. The same experiment was tested on female mice, but the same findings did not appear. This anomaly is something that they are now investigating.
A number of drugs are currently used by those with osteoporosis across the globe to prevent bone loss, but their prolonged use could inhibit the natural remodelling of bone tissue, causing joint and muscle pain. Due to the more 'natural' nature of this treatment, it is hoped that these negative side effects can be avoided.
Both Professor McCabe and Professor Britton emphasised that this research is still in its early stages, yet it offers a great deal of future promise for those who have had to install a tailor-made walk in bath because of weakened bones. Although research into their effect on female mice and on humans has yet to be conclusive, it provides a stepping stone for those who suffer from the type of osteoporosis that is not associated with post-menopausal women.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Michigan State University, who provided grants towards work on the study, and was published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology. To read a more detailed report of the study, an article from Science Daily can be read here.
Image Credit: Ryan Somma (flickr.com)
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