How intestinal bacteria are related to aging
In the past, several researches have shown how much influence the intestinal flora has on the human organism. For this reason, the previously unobserved intestinal bacterial diversity is increasingly researched. An international research team, led by Nanyang Technology University in Singapore (NTU Singapore), has researched that intestinal microorganisms can also significantly alter the aging process.
All living organisms, including humans, coexist with a variety of microbial species that live in them. How important this may be to our physiology, metabolism, and even our behavior has only become apparent through scientific research in the last two decades. Now, the international research team has also discovered a connection to aging processes and hopes to derive nutritional recommendations to reduce them.
Neurogenesis and intestinal growth are affected.
In experiments with mice, the researchers were able to prove that the transmission of intestinal bacteria from aged mice (24 months) to young germ-free mice (six weeks old) had a significant influence on the process of so-called neurogenesis (nerve cell formation) and intestinal growth. The results were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Enrichment of intestinal microbes with positive effects
The research team led by Professor Sven Pettersson of NTU Singapore noted that young germ-free rats had increased intestinal growth and brain neurogenesis (neurogenesis) as early as eight weeks after the transmission of intestinal bacteria from older mice. The increase in neurogenesis is attributed to the accumulation of intestinal microbes, which produce a specific short chain fatty acid called butyrate.
What is butyrate?
Butyrate is formed by microbial fermentation of fiber in the lower digestive tract and "stimulates the production of a pro-longevity hormone called FGF21, which plays an important role in regulating energy and metabolism in the body." Butyrate production increases with age. but reduced in the body.
Transmission of intestinal bacteria
"We found that microbes collected from an old mouse have the ability to support neuronal growth in a younger mouse," explains Professor Pettersson. In other experiments, researchers could also generate the "neurostimulatory effect" by directly administering butyrate to young rats.
Possible medical applications
Now, one should investigate whether butyrate can also contribute to nerve cell repair and reconstruction, such as after a stroke or spinal injury. In addition, researchers want to investigate whether butyrate may also contribute to reducing the cognitive decline of aging and the overall aging process.
The digestive system also benefited
Regarding the function of the digestive system, transplantation of intestinal bacteria from old to young mice also had a considerable effect. Normally, the viability of small intestine cells decreases with age, mucus production decreases, and intestinal cells become more susceptible to damage and cell death.
Increased length and width of intestinal villi
However, the team found that mice that received microbes from the old donor had increased villus length and width – the small intestine wall. In addition, the small intestine and colon were longer in old mice than in young germ-free mice. Direct addition of butyrate also helps to better regulate intestinal barrier function and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Potential method against the negative effects of aging
Overall, the results show that intestinal microbes can compensate for aging processes in the body by positive stimuli, the researchers report. This suggests a potential new method for counteracting the negative effects of aging by mimicking butyrate accumulation and activation.
Development of microbiome-related measures
"We can predict future human studies by testing the ability of butyrate foods to support healthy aging and adult neurogenesis," says Professor Pettersson. "The findings advance our understanding of the relationship between the microbiome and its host during aging and set the stage for developing microbiome-related measures to promote healthy longevity," adds Professor Brian Kennedy, director of the University's Center for Healthy Aging. National. Singapore (Fp)
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- Nanyang University of Technology, Singapore (NTU Singapore): Bacteria in the aging process may age, NTU Singapore study finds (published 11/14/2019), media.ntu.edu.sg
- Sven Pettersson, et al .: Neurogenesis and prolongation signaling in germ-free young mice transplanted with the intestinal microbiota of old mice; in Science Translational Medicine, Volume 11, Issue 518, November 2019, stm.sciencemag.org
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a doctor's visit.