Gut microbiome depletion and repetitive mild traumatic brain injury differentially modify bone development in male and female adolescent rats

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Dysregulation of the gut microbiome has been shown to disrupt both bone formation and bone resorption in several preclinical and clinical models. However, the role of microbiome in adolescent bone development remains poorly understood. This effect of disrupted bone development may be more pronounced during adolescence, when bone development is vulnerable to environmental stimuli and external insults (e.g., antibiotic treatment and traumatic brain injury), as this is a critical window of development. Therefore, in this study, we sought to investigate the effect of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (RmTBI) and gut microbiome depletion by antibiotic treatment on femur length and bone density in male and female adolescent Sprague Dawley rats. Rats were randomly assigned to receive standard or antibiotic autoclaved drinking water and to receive sham or RmTBIs injuries. Using micro-computed tomography (μCT), we found sexually dimorphic changes in adolescent bone development in response to microbiome depletion and RmTBI. Specifically, gut microbiome depletion stunted femur growth in males and altered cross sectional bone area (CSA), bone area fraction, and the bone volume of low and mid density bone in the distal metaphyseal region of the femur. Conversely, RmTBI and antibiotic treatment individually disrupted bone growth, bone area fraction, and bone volume of high-density bone within the distal metaphyseal region of the femur in females, but not when combined. Therefore, findings from this study indicate that gut microbiome and RmTBI may alter bone development in a sex-dependent manner during adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101123
Number of pages11
JournalBone Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Antibiotics
  • Concussion
  • Femur
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Sex differences

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