Fecal transplantation is a negative sign of old age

Summary: Transplantation of fecal microbiota from young mice to older mice eliminated specific signs of aging in the gut, brain, and eyes. Transplantation of fecal microbiota from old mice to young mice has had the opposite effect, causing inflammation in the brain and loss of a key protein associated with healthy vision.

A source: University of EastAnglia

In the search for eternal youth, poo transplantation may seem like a dubious way to reverse the aging process.

However, researchers at the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia have shown in mice that the transfer of fecal microbiota from young to older mice can eliminate the signs of aging in the gut, eyes and brain.

In a reverse experiment, the microbes of older mice caused inflammation in the brains of young recipients, reducing the basic protein needed for normal vision.

These findings suggest that intestinal microbes play a role in regulating some of the harmful effects of aging and open up the possibility of intestinal microbial-based therapy to combat decline in later life.

Simon Carding, a professor at the Norwich Medical School at the National Academy of Sciences, and the head of the Quadram Institute’s Intestinal Microbes and Health Research Program, said: function and appearance and offers a potential solution in the form of intestinal microbial replacement therapy.

It has long been known that the population of microbes we carry in our gut, and the gut microbiota in general, is related to health. Many diseases are associated with changes in the types and behavior of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes in the human gut.

Some of these changes in the composition of the microbiota have a negative effect on metabolism and immunity as we age, and are associated with age-related diseases, including cardiovascular, autoimmune, metabolic, and neurodegenerative disorders.

To better understand the effects of these changes in the microbiota in old age, researchers at the Quadram Institute transferred the intestinal microbes of older mice to healthy young mice and vice versa. They then looked at how this aging affected the inflammatory symptoms in the gut, brain and eyes, which suffered from reduced function in later life.

published in a research journal microbiomeMicrobiota from old donors have been shown to cause inflammation of the immune system and the brain and eye, leading to a loss of intestinal mucosal integrity and allowing bacterial products to enter the bloodstream.

Age-related chronic inflammation, also known as inflammation, is caused by the activation of certain immune cells found in the brain. These cells were also over-activated in young mice who had received an old microbiome transplant.

In the eye, the team also found an increase in specific proteins associated with retinal degeneration in young mice receiving microbiota from older donors.

In older mice, these adverse changes in the gut, eyes, and brain can be reversed by transplanting the intestinal microbiota of young mice.

In ongoing research, the team is now working to understand how long these positive effects will last and to determine the beneficial components of the young donor microbiota and how they affect distant organs in the gut.

The microbiota of young mice and old mice transplanted into young microbiota have been enriched with beneficial bacteria that were previously associated with the health of both mice and humans.

In a reverse experiment, the microbes of older mice caused inflammation in the brains of young recipients, reducing the basic protein needed for normal vision. Image in public domain

Scientists have also analyzed the products by which these bacteria break down elements in our diet. This may be due to changes observed in the inflammatory cells of the eye and brain, in particular, revealed significant shifts in lipid (fat) and vitamin metabolism.

Similar pathways exist in humans, and the human gut microbiota will change significantly in later life, but researchers are wary of extrapolating their results directly to humans unless similar studies are performed in older people.

A new facility for microbiota replacement therapy (MRT) is being built at the Quadram Institute, also called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), which will facilitate such tests as well as other testing of microbiota-related conditions.

The author of the study, Dr. Amy Parker of the Quadram Institute said: “We are pleased that by altering the intestinal microbiota of the elderly, we are able to maintain the indicators of age decline observed in degenerative conditions of the eye and brain.

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“Our findings provide more evidence of an important link between microbes in the gut and the healthy aging of tissues and organs around the body. We hope that our findings will ultimately help us understand how we can control our diet and gut bacteria.

It’s about microbiome and aging research news

Author: Press service
A source: University of EastAnglia
Contact: Press Service – University of East Anglia
Photo: Photo in public domain

Original study: Closed access.
“The exchange of fecal microbiota between young and old mice eliminates the symptoms of aging gut, eyes, and brain,” Aimée Parker et al. microbiome


The passage of fecal microbiota between young and old mice eliminates the symptoms of aging gut, eyes and brain.


Later, changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota are associated with inflammation, decreased tissue function, and increased susceptibility to age-related chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative dementia. Here, we tested the hypothesis that manipulation of the intestinal microbiota affects the development of major diseases associated with aging and, in particular, inflammation affecting the brain and retina.


By transplanting fecal microbiota, we replaced the intestinal microbiota of young (3 months), old (18 months) and old (24 months) mice. Sequence and metabolism of the whole metagenomic gun were used to develop the process of adaptive analysis, to analyze changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota and metabolic potential. The effects of age and microbiota transmission on the intestinal barrier, retina, and brain were assessed by protein analysis, immunohistology, and behavioral testing.


We show that the composition profiles and main species of enriched microbiota in young or elderly mice are successfully transferred by FMT between young and old mice and that FMT modulates metabolic pathway profiles. Transfer of elderly donor microbiota to young mice accelerates age-related inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS), retinal inflammation, and cytokine signaling, leading to loss of the main functional protein of the eye, which is accompanied by increased permeability of the intestinal barrier. On the contrary, these adverse effects can be reversed by transferring the young donor microbiota.


These findings suggest that aging intestinal microbiota causes adverse changes in the intestinal-brain and intestinal-retinal axis, and that microbial modulation may have therapeutic benefits in preventing tissue degeneration due to inflammation in later life.

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