Gut microbial-derived short-chain fatty acids and bone: a potential role in fracture healing

Eur Cell Mater. 2021 Apr 21:41:454-470. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v041a29.


Bone healing complications such as delayed healing or non-union affect 5-10 % of patients with a long-bone fracture and lead to reduced quality of life and increased health-care costs. The gut microbiota and the metabolites they produce, mainly short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), have been shown to impact nearly all organs of the human body including bone. SCFAs show broad activity in positively influencing bone healing outcomes either by acting directly on cell types involved in fracture healing, such as osteoblasts, osteoclasts, chondrocytes and fibroblasts, or indirectly, by shaping an appropriate anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory response. Due to the ability of SCFAs to influence osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation, SCFAs may also affect the integration of orthopaedic implants in bone. In addition, SCFA-derivatives have already been used in a variety of tissue engineering constructs to reduce inflammation and induce bone tissue production. The present review summarises the current knowledge on the role of the gut microbiota, in particular through the action of SCFAs, in the individual stages of bone healing and provides insights into how SCFAs may be utilised in a manner beneficial for fracture healing and surgical reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Fracture Healing / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile