Neurogenesis and prolongevity signaling in young germ-free mice transplanted with the gut microbiota of old mice
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A fatty acid produced by microbes in the gut could help fight the ageing process.
Our gut microbiota changes as we grow older, but it is unclear what effects this evolution has on our physiology.
A team led by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, transferred bacteria-containing stool from healthy older mice into young recipients. After a couple months, the young mice showed increased intestinal growth, enhanced neuronal production in the brain, and activated expression of a lifespan-extending hormone in the liver.
The benefits arose specifically from bacteria that produced a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate during the breakdown of dietary fibre. This fatty acid on its own had the same anti-ageing effects when fed to young mice in a liquid solution.
The findings suggest that butyrate-producing microbes act as a natural defense against ageing-related declines — and that supplementing diets with this fatty acid could help combat many of the ravages of ageing.
- Science Translational Medicine 11, eaau4760 (2019). doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau4760