The Microbial Metabolite Butyrate Stimulates Bone Formation via T Regulatory Cell-Mediated Regulation of WNT10B Expression

Immunity. 2018 Dec 18;49(6):1116-1131.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2018.10.013. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


Nutritional supplementation with probiotics can prevent pathologic bone loss. Here we examined the impact of supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) on bone homeostasis in eugonadic young mice. Micro-computed tomography revealed that LGG increased trabecular bone volume in mice, which was due to increased bone formation. Butyrate produced in the gut following LGG ingestion, or butyrate fed directly to germ-free mice, induced the expansion of intestinal and bone marrow (BM) regulatory T (Treg) cells. Interaction of BM CD8+ T cells with Treg cells resulted in increased secretion of Wnt10b, a bone anabolic Wnt ligand. Mechanistically, Treg cells promoted the assembly of a NFAT1-SMAD3 transcription complex in CD8+ cells, which drove expression of Wnt10b. Reducing Treg cell numbers, or reconstitution of TCRβ-/- mice with CD8+ T cells from Wnt10b-/- mice, prevented butyrate-induced bone formation and bone mass acquisition. Thus, butyrate concentrations regulate bone anabolism via Treg cell-mediated regulation of CD8+ T cell Wnt10b production.

Keywords: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG; NFAT; T cells; Wnt10b; bone formation; butyrate; microbiota; probiotics; regulatory T cells; short-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Butyrates / metabolism
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects*
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*


  • Butyrates
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt10b protein, mouse