Study links gut microbe metabolism to longevity

Data published in Nature​ indicated that centenarians have a distinct gut microbiome enriched in bacteria that can generate unique secondary bile acids.

Specifically, the researchers reported that Odoribacteraceae​, a gram-negative family of bacteria found in the feces of centenarians, may produce a specific bile acid (BA) called isoallo-lithocholic acid (isoalloLCA), which exerts potent antimicrobial effects against gram-positive (but not gram-negative) multidrug-resistant pathogens, such as Clostridioides difficile​ and Enterococcus faecium​.

“To our knowledge, isoalloLCA is one of the most potent antimicrobial agents selective against gram-positive microbes, including multidrug-resistant pathogens, suggesting that it may contribute to the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis by enhancing colonization resistance mechanisms,” ​wrote researchers led by Kenya Honda, MD, PhD, from the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo and the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Yokohama.

The study, which compares the gut microbes of centenarians, elderly individuals (85–89 years old), and younger people (21–55 years old) in Japan, raises the possibility of manipulating the bile acid pool for health benefits.

Correlation and not causality, but…

Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Prof Kim Barrett, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego, said: “This work seems timely, interesting and important, and to have been carefully conducted.  Like many studies that seek to implicate specific microbiome signatures with particular conditions in humans, as yet the work mostly reveals correlations rather than causality.

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