How intestinal bacteria are related to aging
The importance of the so-called intestinal flora for health has long been underestimated, but in recent years, various studies have increasingly focused on bacterial diversity in our digestive tract. Now, an international research team led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), has shown that intestinal microorganisms can also change the aging process.
All living organisms, including humans, coexist with the different microbiological species that live in and on them. How important these 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 an association with aging processes and hopes to be able to make nutrition recommendations to slow them down.
Neurogenesis and intestinal growth are affected
In the mouse experiments, the researchers were able to prove that the transmission of intestinal bacteria from old mice (24 months old) to young germ-free mice (six weeks old) had a significant impact on the so-called process. neurogenesis (nerve cell formation) and intestinal growth. The results were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Enrichment of intestinal microbes with positive effects
A research team led by Professor Sven Patterson of NTU Singapore noted that young mice without germs showed increased intestinal growth and neurogenesis of the brain (neurogenesis) eight weeks after the intestinal bacteria had been transferred from older mice. Increased neurogenesis is attributed to the accumulation of intestinal microbes, which produce a specific short-chain fatty acid called butyrate.
What is butyrate?
Butyrate, according to researchers, is formed by microbial fiber fermentation in the lower digestive tract and "stimulates the production of a pro-longevity hormone called FGF21, which plays an important role in regulating body energy and metabolism." Butyrate production increases with age but reduced in the body.
Transmission of intestinal bacteria
"We have found that microbes harvested from an old mouse have the potential to support the neuronal growth of a younger mouse," explains prof. Peterson. In further experiments, researchers may also generate a "neuro-stimulating effect" by directly administering butyrate to young mice.
Possible medical applications
It must now be examined whether the butyrate can also contribute to the repair and renewal of nerve cells such as after a stroke or damage to the spinal cord. In addition, researchers want to investigate whether butyrate can also help reduce the cognitive decline of aging and the aging process in general.
It also used the digestive system
Regarding the function of the digestive system, the transplantation of intestinal bacteria from old to young mice has a significant effect. Normally, the viability of small intestinal cells decreases with age, their mucus production decreases, and the intestinal cells become more susceptible to cell damage and death.
Increasing the length and width of intestinal villi
However, the team found that mice receiving microbes from the old donor had an increase in the length and width of the villa – the small intestine wall. In addition, both the small intestine and the colon were longer in the older mice than in the young mice without the germ. Direct addition of butyrate also helps to better regulate the function of the intestinal barrier and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Potential method against adverse effects of aging
Overall, the results show that intestinal microbes can compensate for the aging process in the body by positive stimulation, the researchers report. This suggests a new potential method to counteract the negative effects of aging by mimicking accumulation and activating butyrate.
Development of microbiome related measures
"We can foresee future studies of human testing of the possibility of butyrate food to support healthy aging and adult neurogenesis," says prof. Peterson. "The findings enhance our understanding of the relationship between the microbiome and its host during aging and lay the groundwork for developing microbiome-related measures to promote healthy longevity," adds Professor Brian Kennedy, director of the National University Center for Healthy Aging Singapore. (FP)
- Nanning University of Technology, Singapore (NTU Singapore): Bacteria can age well, a study by NTU Singapore reveals (published 11/14/2019), media.ntu.edu.sg
- Sven Patterson et al .: Neurogenesis and prolongation signaling in young germ-free mice transplanted with the gut microbiota of old mice; in Science Translational Medicine, Volume 11, Number 518, November 2019, stm.sciencemag.org
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He could not replace a doctor's visit.