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A Fecal Microbiota Transplant to Treat Aging

Image credit: Stephanie Rossow/CDC

Jamila Aug 05, 2020
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Could a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) delay or even reverse aging?

As you grow older, the diversity of the gut microbiota and the number of species present increases. In adulthood, the gut microbiota structure and composition remain constant but then gut microbiota deteriorates in aged individuals. Centenarians have different gut microbiota, studies have shown that centenarians have an abundance of Verrucomicrobia, Christensenellaceae, and Bifidobacterium. It has been suggested that the presence of these specific bacteria may be the reason why centenarians have enhanced lifespans (even though researchers are not sure why this is).

FMT is whereby fecal filtrate from a healthy donor is transplanted into an individual that has dysfunctional gut microbiota. Apparently; FMT can restore healthy gut microbiota in the recipient and thus FMT may be applied to the field of longevity. Bárcena and colleagues found that FMT in two progeroid mice models had prevented progression of the aging phenotype which is commonly seen in the progeroid diseases, and FMT also improved the lifespan of the progeroid mice.

It would be interesting to see whether FMT has geroprotective capabilities in aged mice and even aged humans in the future.

[1]Lynch, Susan V., and Oluf Pedersen. "The human intestinal microbiome in health and disease." New England Journal of Medicine 375.24 (2016): 2369-2379.

[2]Biagi, Elena, et al. "Gut microbiota and extreme longevity." Current Biology 26.11 (2016): 1480-1485.

[3]Bárcena, Clea, et al. "Healthspan and lifespan extension by fecal microbiota transplantation into progeroid mice." Nature medicine 25.8 (2019): 1234-1242.

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General comments

Yahi Menezes
Yahi Menezes4 years ago
An alternative approach to change the gut microbiota profile, aiming to increase diversity and amount of anti-ageing microbial strains, could be by targeting food intake in the long term (1). Considering the above, not only physiological aspects of the human individual itself could be targeted in an "anti-ageing diet" (which may already be a common approach), but also the microbial profile should be considered, since there's evidence that changes in dietary profile cause changes in gut microbiota profile (1,2). Still, I wonder: how much is the contribution of our associated microbiota to our own physiology (including ageing aspects)? How dynamic is this contribution in the same individual? I believe it's hard to separate which aspects of a particular phenotypic trait is the result of "our own body" or the associated organisms in order to determine a therapeutic target (at least prior to testing the specific therapy), but these are just some general issues to consider when studying a holobiont like us... 1 - https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1600266 2 - https://www.europeanreview.org/article/11780
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Jamila 4 years ago
Yes, we may be able to use our dietary intake to modulate the abundance of certain bacteria. In one study, it was found that a chicken‐protein‐based diet increased the abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila compared to a soy-based diet which actually reduced the abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.201900589) We might also be able to use oral supplements containing bacteria instead of FMT. In the study mentioned earlier about the progeroid mice, Bárcena and colleagues also did experiments using oral supplements. Progeria mice that were given oral supplements containing Akkermansia muciniphila had significantly increased lifespans compared to the progeria controls. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0504-5) So perhaps an anti-aging probiotic drink containing certain bacterial species that are abundant in long-lived individuals could be developed.
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