How gut microbes impact the digestive system
The team also explored the effects of gut microbe transplants from old to young mice on the functions of the digestive system.
With age, the viability of small intestinal cells is reduced, and this is associated with reduced mucus production that makes intestinal cells more vulnerable to damage and cell death.
However, the addition of butyrate helps to better regulate the intestinal barrier function and reduce the risk of inflammation.
The team found that mice receiving microbes from the old donor gained increases in length and width of the intestinal villi – the wall of the small intestine. In addition, both the small intestine and colon were longer in the old mice than the young germ-free mice.
The discovery shows that gut microbes can compensate and support an aging body through positive stimulation.
This points to a new potential method for tackling the negative effects of aging by imitating the enrichment and activation of butyrate.