Age and aging have critical effects on the gut microbiome

“This study is the first of its kind to examine the microbial composition of the small intestine of subjects 18 to 80. We now know that certain microbial populations are influenced more by medications, while others are more affected by certain diseases. We have identified specific microbes that appear to be only influenced by the chronological age of the person,” said Mathur, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Outpatient Treatment & Education Center.

The 21st century has been referred to as the “era of the gut microbiome” as scientists turn considerable attention to the role trillions of gut bacteria, fungi and viruses may play in human health and disease. The microbiome is the name given to the genes that live in these cells. Studies have suggested that disturbances in the constellations of the microbial universe may lead to critical illnesses, including gastroenterological diseases, diabetes, obesity, and some neurological disorders.

While researchers know that microbial diversity in stool decreases with age, Cedars-Sinai investigators identified bacteria in the small bowel they refer to as “disruptors” that increase and could be troublesome.

“Coliforms are normal residents of the intestine. We found that when these rod-shaped microbes become too abundant in the small bowel–as they do as we get older–they exert a negative influence on the rest of the microbial population. They are like weeds in a garden,” said study co-author Gabriela Leite, PhD.

Investigators also found that as people age, the bacteria in the small intestine change from microbes that prefer oxygen to those that can survive with less oxygen, something they hope to understand as the research continues.

“Our goal is to identify and fingerprint the small intestinal microbial patterns of human health and disease. Given the important role the small bowel plays in absorption of nutrients, changes in the microbiome in this location of the gut may have a greater impact on human health, and warrants further study,” said Mark Pimentel, MD, director of the MAST program and a co-author of the study.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Age and aging have critical effects on the gut microbiome

  1. hadesforthem

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