Study Reveals Gut Microbes from Aged Mice Induce Inflammation in Young Mice

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found evidence linking the gut microbiomes of aged mice to age-related inflammation common to mice and humans. The study, published in the journal Aging Cell, sheds light on the role of changes in the gut microbiome in the systemic inflammation associated with aging.

The researchers transplanted gut microbes from aged mice into young “germ-free” mice, which are raised without their own gut microbes. They observed that the recipient mice experienced an increase in inflammation similar to the inflammatory processes seen in aging humans. In contrast, young germ-free mice transplanted with microbes from other young mice did not show the same increase in inflammation.

The study also found that antibiotics had longer-lasting effects on the gut microbiomes of aged mice compared to young mice. This suggests that age-related changes in the gut microbiome may contribute to the chronic low-grade inflammation that often accompanies aging.

The researchers focused on toll-like receptors (TLRs), which play a role in mediating inflammatory processes in the body. They found that the gut microbiomes of aged mice were more likely to activate TLR4, which senses bacterial components associated with inflammation. This led to higher inflammatory signaling and increased levels of lipopolysaccharides in the blood of young mice transplanted with aged microbes.

Overall, the study provides valuable insights into how age-related changes in the gut microbiome can impact inflammation and long-term health. The findings highlight the importance of understanding the role of the gut microbiome in age-related inflammatory conditions and the potential implications for future health research.

For more information on the study, the paper titled “Aging amplifies a gut microbiota immunogenic signature linked to heightened inflammation” is available online.

Jacob Allen is a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He led the research on gut microbiomes and aging-induced inflammation, aiming to understand the functional capacity of the microbiome in contributing to age-related inflammatory states. Allen is also a professor of nutritional sciences at Illinois and an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois.