Antibiotics kill gut bacteria, which could be bad for your bones, new MUSC study says

Antibiotics may be bad for your bones, according to a new study from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Researchers found that when they gave mice antibiotics, it killed off their gut bacteria, which interrupted communication between the mices’ immune systems and bone cells, causing the body to create more cells that decrease bone density, according to the study published Jan. 16 in the American Journal of Pathology.

“We’re trying to get at how gut microbes regulate the immune system and how that can affect bone health,” said study coauthor Jessica Hathaway-Schrader.

The first-of-its kind study focused on the development of bones when mice were going through adolescence, and did not aim to measure antibiotics’ effect on osteoporosis or elderly bone health, study coauthor Chad Novince said.

Antibiotics decreased bone density in both male and female mice, but males were affected more. Researchers are not sure why, Hathaway-Schrader said.

Researchers note that drugs often affect mice differently than humans, according to a 2009 study from the National Institutes of Health. For this study, Novince said he thinks there is a 50/50 chance humans will be affected in a similar way the mice were.

“Really, it’s going to take future research on how antibiotics affect humans,” Novince said.

Lucas Daprile has been covering the University of South Carolina and higher education since March 2018. Before working for The State, he graduated from Ohio University and worked as an investigative reporter at TCPalm in Stuart, FL. There, where he won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his political and environmental coverage.