Posted on 17 February 2020
There has been considerable interest in the role of the gut microbiota in a wide range of diseases, including those of ageing. For example, a study recently reported a possible link between gut microbiota composition and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is mounting evidence that the composition of the gut microbiota changes with age and may contribute to ageing. However, the gut is not the only site of commensal (non-harmful) bacteria within the body. Comparatively less is known about how the skin and oral microbiomes might change with, and influence, ageing.
This paper combined data from multiple studies to investigate which microbiota could best be used to predict chronological age. Interestingly, they found that the skin microbiota was the best predictor, accurate within 4 years on average, while the gut microbiota was the worst predictor.
It would be premature to conclude from this study that the skin microbiota contributes to the ageing process. However, it informs efforts to develop microbiota-based tests that will determine how rapidly an individual is ageing.
Building on these results, future work will include developing noninvasive microbiome-based tests to determine signs of accelerated or delayed aging in the elderly, or in individuals with chronic diseases, and designing and evaluating microbially based interventions to modify the aging process.Huang, S., Haiminen, N., Carrieri, A., Hu, R., Jiang, L., & Parida, L. et al. (2020). Human Skin, Oral, and Gut Microbiomes Predict Chronological Age. Msystems, 5(1). doi: 10.1128/msystems.00630-19
Human Skin, Oral, and Gut Microbiomes Predict Chronological Age: https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00630-19