Fecal culture reverses signs of aging in gut, eyes and brain

In an experiment in mice, fecal microbiota from young to old implanted reverse fingerprints of aging in the gut, eyes and brain.

In the quest for eternal youth, stool culture may seem like an unlikely way to reverse the aging process.

However, scientists at 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 findings 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.

It has been known for some time that the group of microbes we carry in our gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, is linked to health. Most diseases 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 as we age, negatively affecting metabolism and immunity, and this has been linked to age-related disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, along with cardiovascular, autoimmune, metabolic, and degenerative disorders.

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To better understand the effects of these changes in microorganisms on aging, scientists at the Quadram Institute transferred gut microbes from aged mice to young, healthy mice and vice versa. Next, they looked at how it affected the inflammatory features of aging in the gut, brain and eyes, which deteriorate in function later in life.

The study published in the journal microbiomeGerms from old donors were found to have lost the integrity of the intestinal lining, allowing bacterial products to enter the circulation, boosting the immune system and inflammation in 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 underwent aged 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 old mice, these harmful changes in the gut, eye and brain can be reversed by transplanting intestinal microbes from young mice.

In ongoing studies, the team is now working to understand how long these positive effects can last and determine the beneficial components of small donor microbes and how they affect organs farther from the gut.

The microbiota of young and aged mice that underwent microbiota transplants was enriched with beneficial bacteria previously associated with good health in mice and humans.

The researchers also looked at the products these bacteria produce as they break down elements of our diet. This revealed significant changes in some lipids (lipids) and vitamin metabolism, which may be related to changes seen in inflammatory cells in the eye and brain.

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Similar pathways exist in humans, and the human gut microbiota changes dramatically later in life, but the researchers caution against extrapolating their findings directly to humans until similar studies can be performed in elderly humans.

A new Microbial Replacement Therapy (MRT) facility, also known as Fecal Microbial Transplantation (FMT), is being built at the Quadram Institute, which will facilitate these trials, as well as other trials for microbial-related conditions.

The study’s lead author, Amy Parker, from the Quadram Institute, said: “We were excited to find that by altering the gut microbiomes of elderly individuals, we could rescue indicators of age-related decline typically seen in degenerative conditions of the eye and brain.

Our results provide further evidence for the important links between the microbiome in the gut and healthy aging of tissues and organs around the body. We hope our findings 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, which is part of Research and Innovation UK.

The transfer of fecal germs between young and old mice reflects the aging characteristics of the gut, eye and brain. microbiome;

Reference: “Fecal microbiome transport between young and old mice reflects the hallmarks 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, microbiome.
DOI: 10.1186 / s40168-022-01243-w