In most animal species, juvenile growth is marked by an exponential gain in body weight and size. Here we show that the microbiota of infant mice sustains both weight gain and longitudinal growth when mice are fed a standard laboratory mouse diet or a nutritionally depleted diet. We found that the intestinal microbiota interacts with the somatotropic hormone axis to drive systemic growth. Using monocolonized mouse models, we showed that selected lactobacilli promoted juvenile growth in a strain-dependent manner that recapitulated the microbiota's effect on growth and the somatotropic axis. These findings show that the host's microbiota supports juvenile growth. Moreover, we discovered that lactobacilli strains buffered the adverse effects of chronic undernutrition on the postnatal growth of germ-free mice.
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