Want to Slow Aging? Check Your Gut!
Slow aging might be possible one day with supplements derived from gut bacteria. Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have identified bacterial genes and compounds that extend the life of and also slow down the progression of tumors and the accumulation of amyloid-beta, a compound associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in the laboratory worm C. elegans. The study appears in the journal Cell.
“The scientific community is increasingly aware that our body’s interactions with the millions of microbes in our bodies, the microbiome, can influence many of our functions, such as cognitive and metabolic activities and aging,” said corresponding author Dr. Meng Wang, associate professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor and the Huffington Center On Aging. “In this work we investigated whether the genetic composition of the microbiome might also be important for longevity.”
The worm in question is a transparent, simple organism that is as long as a pinhead and shares essential characteristics with human biology. During its 2 to 3 week long lifespan, the worm feeds on bacteria, develops into an adult, reproduces, and progressively ages, loses strength and health and dies.
“We think that C. elegans is a wonderful system in which to study the connection between bacterial genes and aging because we can very fine tune the genetics of microbes and test many genes in the worm in a relatively short time,” Wang said.
Testing thousands of genes, one at a time.
Ressearchers tested nearly 4,000 bacterial genes and 29, when deleted, increased the worms’ lifespan. Twelve of these bacterial mutants also protected the worms from tumor growth and accumulation of amyloid-beta, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Further experiments showed that some of the bacterial mutants increased longevity by acting on some of the worm’s known processes linked to aging.
The researchers propose that, based on these results, it might be possible in the future to design preparations of bacteria or their compounds that could help slow aging.
So if you want to slow aging check your gut!