Fecal microbes can regress some organ aging

Bacteria that live within the human digestive tract, aka the human gut microbiome, help us extract nutrients from food, boost the immune response and modulate the effects of drugs.

The unifying assumption is that the gut microbiota sends signals outside the gut and that these signals have substantial impacts on a wide range of target tissues.

In this regard, a more recent finding showed that transplanting young mouse poop microbes into elderly mice appears to reverse major symptoms of aging in the gut, eyes, and brains of older mice.

As reported, moving microbes from aged mice’s stool into younger mice caused the younger animals to show evidence of aging, including increased inflammation in the brain and a deficit in a crucial protein required for normal vision, according to several experiments.

This occurs because, as we age, we become more prone to wear and tear, as well as disease, due to the way our gut degenerate. Although only mice intestines have been studied thus far, these tests demonstrate that something can be done about it for humans.

“Here, we tested the hypothesis that manipulating the intestinal microbiota influences the development of major comorbidities associated with aging and, in particular, inflammation affecting the brain and retina”, said the researchers in their published paper.

As we age, inflammation surrounding the brain and retinas in the eyes increases, and age-related chronic inflammation, known as inflammaging (inflammation + aging) has been linked to particular immune cells.

This inflammation appeared to reverse when the feces microbes were transferred from young to aged mice. However, when the transplant was reversed, the younger mice began to show signs of gut aging and inflammation.

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These findings included a breakdown in the gut lining (allowing germs to enter the bloodstream), higher levels of proteins linked to retinal degeneration, and immune cell activation linked to inflammaging.

Scientific research is revealing ever more connections between our gut microbes and our health, whether it’s mental health issues like anxiety or physical health issues like obesity, including cancer treatment response, and a variety of neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, and autism.

In other words, the bacteria combination in our guts is important, and altering it, whether by diet or fecal transplants, has the potential to improve a range of health outcomes.

Future research will examine how long the beneficial benefits of these fecal transplants may last, as well as which gut microbes, in particular, are controlling the observed effects. Then scientists can look at whether it would work in humans as well.

“This ground-breaking study provides tantalizing evidence for the direct involvement of gut microbes in aging and the functional decline of brain function and vision and offers a potential solution in the form of gut microbe replacement therapy”, explains gut biologist Simon Carding, from the University of East Anglia in the UK.