Anew study indicates that ageing leads to significant changes in the microbiome of the human small intestine, and the changes are different from those caused by medications or illnesses. Researchers relied predominantly on faecal samples to explore the gut microbiome and its impact on health. The study’s principal investigator, Dr Ruchi Mathur, however, noted that faecal samples alone do not represent the entire gut. The outcomes of the study, conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the US, were published in the journal Cell Reports.
“By teasing out the microbial changes that occur in the small bowel with age, medication use and diseases, we hope to identify unique components of the microbial community to target for therapeutics and interventions that could promote healthy ageing,” Dr Mathur was quoted as saying.
Researchers from the Cedars-Sinai’s Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) Program examined the microbiome and its relationship with ageing. They analyzed faecal samples from the small intestine which is generally around 20 feet long and has the absorptive surface area of a tennis court.
According to Dr Mathur, participants, whose faecal samples were tested, ranged from 18 years to 80 years in age. She said through this firs- of-its-kind study, they have come to a conclusion that like medications and diseases, ageing also influences changes in microbial composition of the small intestine.
The study is important since trillions of gut bacteria, fungi and viruses may play crucial roles in human health and diseases. Scientists have also shifted their focus to this issue as the 21st century is being referred to as the “era of gut microbiome.”
Various studies have suggested that changes in microbial composition can affect a person’s health and may even lead to critical illnesses like gastroenterological diseases, diabetes and obesity.