In the quest for eternal youth, stool culture may seem like an unlikely way to reverse the aging process.
However, scientists from the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia have provided evidence from mouse research that transplanting faecal microbes from young mice to old mice can reverse the hallmarks of aging in the gut. , eyes and brain.
In the reverse experiment, microbes from aged mice caused brain inflammation in young receptors and depleted a key protein needed for normal vision.
These results show that the gut microbiome plays a role in regulating some of the adverse effects of aging and opens up the possibility of gut microbiome-based therapies to combat decline in adulthood.
Professor Simon Carding, from Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia and head of the Microbiome and Health Research Program at the Quadram Institute, said: Function and vision present a potential solution in the form of an alternative treatment for the gut microbiome.
The group of microbes we carry in our gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, have been known for some time to be linked to health. Most illnesses are associated with changes in the types and behavior of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes in an individual’s gut.
Some of these changes in the microbiota occur with age, negatively affecting metabolism and immunity, and this has been linked to age-related disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, as well as cardiovascular, autoimmune, metabolic and degenerative disorders.
To better understand the effects of these changes in microorganisms on aging, scientists at the Quadram Institute transferred gut microbes from old mice to healthy young mice and vice versa. Next, they looked at how it affects inflammatory features of aging in the gut, brain and eyes, which deteriorate later in life.
The study published in the journal microbiotaGerms from old donors were found to have lost the integrity of the intestinal lining, allowing bacterial products to enter the circulation, stimulating the immune system and inflammation of the brain and eyes.
Chronic age-related inflammation, known as inflammation, is associated with the activation of certain immune cells found in the brain. These cells were also overactivated in young mice that had undergone aging microbiome transplants.
In the eye, the team also found that certain proteins associated with retinal degeneration were elevated in young mice that received microbiota from older donors.
In older mice, these harmful changes in the gut, eyes and brain can be reversed by transplanting gut microbes from young mice.
In ongoing studies, the team is now working to understand how long these positive effects can last and to determine the beneficial components of the small donor microbes and how they affect organs further away from the gut.
The microbiota of young and old mice who underwent microbiota transplants became enriched with beneficial bacteria previously associated with good health in mice and humans.
The researchers also looked at the products these bacteria produce when they break down things in our food. This revealed significant changes in certain lipids (lipids) and vitamin metabolism, which may be linked to observed changes in inflammatory cells in the eye and brain.
Similar pathways exist in humans, and the human gut microbiota changes dramatically later in life, but the researchers caution against directly extrapolating their findings to humans until similar studies can be made. performed in the elderly.
A new microbial replacement therapy (MRT) facility, also known as fecal microbial transplantation (FMT), is being built at the Quadram Institute that will facilitate these trials, as well as other trials for microbial conditions.
The study’s lead author, Amy Parker, from the Quadram Institute, said: “We were thrilled to find that by altering the gut microbiomes of older adults, we could rescue indicators of age-related decline. usually seen in degenerative conditions of the eye and brain. .
Our results provide further evidence of the important links between the microbiome in the gut and the healthy aging of body tissues and organs. We hope our findings will contribute to understanding how we can manipulate our diet and gut bacteria to maximize good health later in life.
The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Life Sciences Research Council, part of Research and Innovation UK.
“The transfer of fecal germs between young and old mice reflects the aging characteristics of the gut, eyes and brain. microbiome;
Reference: “The transport of the faecal microbiome between young and old mice reflects the characteristics of intestinal, ocular and brain aging” by Amy Parker, Stefano Romano, Rebecca Ansorgi, Asma Aboul Nour, Gwenel Le Gall, Georges M. Savva, Matthew J Pontifex, Andrea Talatin and David Baker, Emily Jones, David Vazor, Stephen Ruder, L. Ashley Blackshaw, Glenn Jeffrey and Simon R. Carding, April 29, 2022, microbiota.