‘Fountain of Youth’ to prevent some effects of aging may have a surprising source: the study

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We have long sought ways to slow or prevent the inevitable effects of aging. But a new study suggests we may have to close our eyes and pinch our noses to drink the fountain of youth.

Fecal transplants, in which one stool is implanted into another, from young to old mice, have reversed some of the effects of aging in the retina and brain, according to a recent article published in microbiomes.

“This groundbreaking study provides enticing trial for the direct involvement of gut microbes in aging and functional decline in brain function and vision, and offers a potential solution in the form of gut microbial replacement therapy, “said Simon Carding, head of the Gut Microbe and Research Program. health at the Quadram Institute in the UK.

Many diseases are known to be associated with changes in the types and behavior of germs in the gut with certain changes in the composition of these microorganisms that occur with age, such as with inflammatory bowel diseases, cardiovascular, autoimmune, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, according to the statement of study.

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Then the researchers swapped the gut microbes between three groups of mice: 3 months, designated as “young”, 18 months, designated as “old”, and 24 months, designated as “old”. A two-year-old mouse is equivalent to a 70-80-year-old human old.

They analyzed changes in gut composition to better understand how fecal transplantation affected inflammation of the gut barrier, retina of the eye and brain, which decreases with age in part due to chronic inflammation, known as “inflammation on the rise

The researchers found transfer The “faecal sewage” from elderly donors to young mice led to a weakening of the intestinal lining, which allowed bacterial products to enter the circulation, triggering an inflammatory response in the brain and eyes. But the harmful effects could be nullified by fecal transplants from young donor mice to older mice.

The team found specific proteins associated with the retina degeneration they were elevated in young mice that received fecal transplants from old donors, while cells associated with activation of immune cells in the brain were hyperactivated in young mice that received aged fecal transplants.

Scientist examining DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) results on a screen during an experiment in the laboratory.
(iStock)

“Our data support the suggestion that altered gut microbiota in old age contributes to gut and systemic inflammation, and thus may contribute to driving inflammatory pathologies of aging organs,” says the study.

Although the human gut microbiota changes significantly later in life, the researchers caution against comparing their findings directly with humans until further studies in older humans can be conducted.

They suggest, however, that their findings could lead to a “poop pill” that humans take to “… promote long-term health benefits in older individuals and improve age-associated neurodegeneration and retinal function. deterioration. “

A new facility is under construction at the Quadram Institute, so new tests can be performed related to fecal transplants and microbiota-related conditions, according to the statements.

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Faecal transplantation can be offered to a select group of patients for the treatment of a diarrheal bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile (or “C. diff”), a complication of antibiotic use when patients fail to respond to standard therapy. , according to the Federal Drug e administration (FDA).

Potential donors are carefully screened, then once approved, their stool is collected and filtered, then transferred to the recipient’s colon, commonly through a colonoscope, which consists of a thin, flexible tube with a small camera at the tip, according to Mayo. Clinic.

The procedure is generally considered safe, but the FDA does released a report in 2019 of two patients who underwent the procedure who contracted drug-resistant infections, according to the medical organization.

The American College of Gastroenterology 2021 guidelines recommend that fecal transplants can also be administered as oral capsules via colonoscopy, as well as by other routes if these two methods are not possible, but the treatment is not yet approved by the FDA.

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“We were thrilled to find that by modifying the gut microbiota of older people, we could have saved the indicators of age-associated decline commonly seen in degenerative conditions of the eye and brain,” said lead author of the study. dr. Aimée Parker, also of the Quadram Institute, in a statement.

“Our findings provide further evidence of the important links between microbes in the gut and the healthy aging of tissues and organs around the body. We hope our findings will ultimately help understand how we can manipulate our diet and our bacteria. intestinal to maximize good health in old age ».