Parathyroid hormone (PTH) has complex effects on bone, including stimulating bone formation and regulating the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche. In the current issue of the JCI, Li et al. demonstrated that the microbiome, through the production of short-chain fatty acids and in particular, butyrate, is necessary for the ability of PTH to increase osteoblast numbers and stimulate bone formation. In addition to implications for the treatment of osteoporosis with PTH analogs, this pathway may be part of a broader mechanism through which the microbiome serves its key function of modulating the immune system.
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