Aging is a natural process, which, unfortunately, is nowhere to go. All living organisms are arranged in such a way that sooner or later they begin to "exhaust their resources and wither." But this does not mean that there is no need to fight or even study such mechanisms. And sometimes discoveries in this area can seriously surprise. For example, not so long ago, a group of researchers from Singapore found a connection between the rate of aging and the state of intestinal microflora.
How is microflora associated with aging?
An international research team led by Nanyang University of Technology, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has found that microorganisms living in the gut can affect aging, which can lead to the development of food-based treatments. All living organisms, including humans, coexist with billions of microbes living both outside and inside. A study that took 20 years found that intestinal bacteria play an important role in nutrition, physiology, metabolism, and even in aging processes. Using laboratory mice, a team led by Professor Sven Pettersson transplanted the intestinal microbes of old mice (they were 24 months old) young (6 weeks old), whose microflora was not so "old".
A team of scientists showed that the activity of the nervous system is due to the enrichment of intestinal microbes that produce a specific short-chain acid belonging to the class of butyrates (which have nothing to do with “butyrate” butyrate). Butyrates are produced by microbial fermentation of dietary fiber in the lower intestine and stimulate the production of the longevity hormone FGF21, which plays an important role in regulating the energy and metabolism of the body. With age, its production decreases.
It turned out that the bacteria of old mice were able to support the development of the nervous system in young ones. And now we can imitate the neurostimulating effect, just using an analog of butyrates. - said Professor Pettersson. This is an amazing and very interesting observation. These results will lead us to examine whether microflora can indirectly support recovery in situations such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, and aging.
The team also investigated the effect of transplanting intestinal microbes from old to young mice on digestive system functions. With age, the viability of small intestinal cells decreases, and this is associated with a decrease in mucus production, which makes intestinal cells more vulnerable to damage. However, the addition of butyrate helps to better regulate the function of the intestinal barrier and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Scientists found that mice that received microflora from old donors had longer intestinal villi. The discovery shows that intestinal microbes can compensate and support an aging body through positive stimulation. This points to a new potential method to combat the negative effects of aging by simulating the enrichment and activation of butyrates.
We can imagine future human studies where we will test the ability of foods to prevent aging.
Interestingly, the germs of an older animal feel better in young individuals. This suggests that the microflora during aging is modified in order to compensate for the accumulating deficiency in the host body. The results obtained contribute to understanding the relationship between the microbiome and its host, and lay the foundation for the development of techniques and drugs related to maintaining the proper functioning of microflora and anti-aging.