A ground-breaking study from APC Microbiome Ireland (APC) at University College Cork (UCC) opened a potentially novel therapeutic technic to slow down brain aging and other cognitive problems that involves transplanting gut microbiota.
Science Daily reported that researchers transplanted gut microbiota from young mice to old mice and found an improved brain function and behavior, which signals a reversal of cognitive aging.
Although it is a truly exciting discovery, researchers caution that the study is still in its early days, and more research is needed to see how these findings could also be applied to humans.
Faecal Microbiota Transplantation in Mice
Researchers transplanted the gut microbiota from young mice to older mice through the process called Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), a procedure usually done to treat 'Clostridium difficile' (C. diff).
According to Nutra Ingredients, the transplanted gut microbiota was either from young mice aged 3-4 months old and old mice aged 19-20 months old mice, with the transplanted to 19-20 months old mice as the control group. Naive young mice also received FMT for aging-related comparisons.
The findings reveal several aging-related differences in gut microbiota, hippocampal neurogenesis, immunity, behavior, and others. Some of them, but not all, were observed to improve after the transplantation of gut microbiota from young mice to old mice.
Further analysis showed the potential mechanisms behind the changes made by the gut microbiota on mice and predicted microbiome functions that were altered following FMT from young mice.
The team suggests that gut-linked hippocampal immunity was restored after gut microbiota transplantation to old mice, which reversed aging-related cognitive declines and behavior.
Is FMT the Next Anti-Aging Fad?
FMT is gaining popularity in recent years, and now that this technique is also used in improving cognitive functions in mice, some might think this could be useful as an anti-aging procedure. However, the authors of the study told Inverse that this is not the next anti-aging fad.
Study author Katherine Guzzetta, a Ph.D. student from UCC, said that there are big implications for using FMT beyond the brain. FMT is not recommended in humans as there is no evidence yet that the same effect will happen among humans. For now, FMT is only a proven method against C. diff. when antibiotics would no longer work.
According to Inverse, researchers noted that the study showed how transplanting gut microbiota from young mice to old mice reverses cognition deficits, but it is unclear whether this could also be translated to humans.
This research in gut microbiomes further highlights their importance in many aspects of health, particularly across the brain and gut axis, wherein the composition of brain health is affected by the composition of microbiomes in the gut.
Researchers said that the study opens possibilities in the future to modulate gut microbiota as a treatment to influence brain health and improve cognitive function and behavior.
The full findings of the study titled "Microbiota From Young Mice Counteracts Selective Age-Associated Behavioral Deficits," are published in the journal Nature Aging.
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