Human gut microbiota and healthy aging: Recent developments and future prospective
Journal article, 2016
The human gut microbiota alters with the aging process. In the first 2-3 years of life, the gut microbiota varies extensively in composition and metabolic functions. After this period, the gut microbiota demonstrates adult-like more stable and diverse microbial species. However, at old age, deterioration of physiological functions of the human body enforces the decrement in count of beneficial species (e.g. Bifidobacteria) in the gut microbiota, which promotes various gut-related diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease). Use of plant-based diets and probiotics/prebiotics may elevate the abundance of beneficial species and prevent gut-related diseases. Still, the connections between diet, microbes, and host are only partially known. To this end, genome-scale metabolic modeling can help to explore these connections as well as to expand the understanding of the metabolic capability of each species in the gut microbiota. This systems biology approach can also predict metabolic variations in the gut microbiota during ageing, and hereby help to design more effective probiotics/prebiotics.