The microbiome and osteomyelitis, an autoinflammatory bone disease

The Gross Clinic , famous oil portrait depicting osteomyelitis surgery from 1875.

The Gross Clinic, famous oil portrait depicting osteomyelitis surgery from 1875.

A recent paper in the journal Nature discusses experiments that provide a link between a certain gut bacteria, diet, and osteomyeltis (an autoinflammatory bone disease).  Osteomyelitis occurs when there is a bacterial infection of the bone marrow.  It is often treated with antibiotics but sometimes surgery and amputation are necessary. 

In the study, the researchers induced osteomyelitis in a group of mice.  They then gave half the mice high fat diets and half the mice low fat diets.  They discovered that the mice eating the high fat diets were protected from osteomyelitis and showed little bone inflammation, while those eating a low fat diet developed the disease.  

The discovery that diet could alter the progression of the disease led the researchers to investigate the microbiome of these mice.  The mice with low fat diets had higher amounts of Prevotella and lower amounts of Lactobacillus when compared to normal mice.  The reverse was true for the high fat diet mice, they had much less Prevotella and much more Lactobacillus in their guts, which better represents the composition in normal mice.

To further investigate if Prevotella may be causing the disease, the researchers gave antibiotics to the low fat diet mice, which destroyed the Prevotella population, and decreased the symptoms of the disease.

Finally, the researchers performed microbiome transplants into germ-free mice that were susceptible for osteomyeltis.  Any germ-free mouse that received a transplant high in Prevotella and then was fed a low fat diet developed the disease.  However, any mouse that received a transplant that was low in Prevotella, even if that mouse was on a low fat diet, did not develop the disease.  

These results show that dietary intake can alter the microbiome and greatly influence osteomyelitis outcomes.

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