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Comparisons of microbial compositions between baseline and follow-up. (a) aPCoA from baseline and follow-up Bray-Curtis distance plot after controlling for hypertension, medication use, alcohol and tea drinking. (b) α-Diversity differences between baseline and follow-up stratified healthy subjects (HB, n = 21; HF, n = 15; LHB, n = 19; LHF, n = 27). (C) Gut microbiome composition at the household level between baseline and follow-up health cases stratified. (d) LEfSe between baseline and follow-up stratified by health status (two-sided Kruskal–Wallis test between classes; P2). Healthy baseline (HB, n = 21), healthy follow-up (HF, n = 15), less healthy baseline (LHB, n = 19) and less healthy follow-up (LHF, n = 27) samples were examined. Wilcoxon rank test (two-sided) was used for panel b. The boxes in the boxplots represent the 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile and the whiskers extend to 1.5 times the interquartile range of the corresponding hinge. credit: nature aging (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s43587-023-00389-y

With a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the impact of the gut microbiota on human health, researchers from AIage Life Science, a probiotic manufacturer in China, investigated the microflora that lives in the guts of the world’s healthiest people – centenarians.

In the paper, “The longevity of centenarians is reflected in the gut microbiome with signatures associated with youth,” which was published in nature agingThe researchers studied the microbiomes of 1,575 individuals between the ages of 20 and 117, of whom 297 reported being 100 years of age or older. A research summary of the study, “Youth-associated signatures of the gut microbiome of centenarians,” is published in the same issue of the journal.

Participants were assessed into five age-related groups. Young (n = 314, 20-44 years old), middle-aged group (n = 277, 45-65 years old), elderly (n = 386, 66-85 years old), non-age group (n = 301, 90- 99 years), and the centile cohort (n = 297, 100-117 years).

The researchers discovered that the gut microbiome fingerprint of centenarians is similar to that of young adults with an overrepresentation of Bacteroides spp. , an increase in species symbiosis (species have similar abundance), enrichment of potentially beneficial species of Bacteroidetes phylum and exhaustion of potential. Pathogens (harmless but can become pathogenic under certain circumstances).

The under-45 group was tested twice over the course of a year and a half. Results from the cohort indicated that with age, the symbiosis of distinct species and low pathogens continued to evolve and was either enhanced or maintained.

The researchers suggest that this microbiome is associated with longevity, as they observed in their study, and state that this may counteract aging or the chronic diseases that accompany aging in general, which this study could not observe.

Researchers are currently isolating thousands of strains of bacteria from centenarians and testing their benefits in animal models in search of microorganisms capable of extending human life. This future research should be incredibly beneficial to AIage Life Science, the company the researchers work for, because it already sells a probiotic product that claims to do just that.

how old?

A quick side note for anyone wondering if the oldest person on earth participated in this study (up to 117): It is unclear and notably undisclosed anywhere in the paper whether there was a participant claiming to be 117 years old, or If this is an arbitrary range on the part of the researchers. The method in which it was written refers to the former and should therefore be explored briefly as it highlights a potential problem in the interpretation of the study.

The ages of the participants were derived by the participant’s self-reporting (at some point in their lives) as no records of births existed in Guangxi Province prior to 1949. This places anyone over 72 at the time of the study in the category of having an unverifiable age .

Unlike the West, there is no emphasis on staying young in Chinese culture, quite the opposite. It is possible that in a society where the elderly enjoy a high status, some may seek exaggeration when asked about their age. That or we can believe, without evidence, that the world’s oldest living person wandered into a study of aging completely unnoticed.

According to the researchers, “All of the participants were community-dwelling and permanently residing in Guangxi Province, China.” The community is known for its large number of centenarians in the population. This is the same community that produced Luo Meizhen, the former world record claimant for the oldest person who ever lived, at 127 years old. The Chinese authorities have somehow confirmed her age, but this cannot be verified because, again, there are no records of births in Guangxi Province prior to 1949. There was also a possible arithmetic problem because she was 61 at the time of her son’s birth, which also makes her The largest person I have ever given birth to at that time.

There are plenty of places in the world with people over 100 with verifiable birth records where this study could be replicated. Guangxi Province in China will not be on that list for centenarians for at least another 26 years.

more information:
Shifu Pang et al, The longevity of centenarians is reflected in the gut microbiome with signatures associated with youth, nature aging (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s43587-023-00389-y

Signatures associated with youth in the gut microbiome of centenarians. nature aging (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s43587-023-00395-0

Journal information:
nature aging

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