Gut bacteria: The building blocks of a long life?
Friendly flora reduces inflammation and prevents disease, study says
Bacteria are commonly associated with disease. However, there are such things as essential bacteria which speed the course of human life. Now, a new study says that the right balance of gut bacteria could be the secret to a long life.
Conducting his research using fruit flies, Jasper found that the bacterial load in the flies' intestines increases dramatically with age, resulting in an inflammatory condition.
The findings could allow experts to find a way of intervening to prevent the age-related deterioration in gut bacteria quality, according to Dr. Heinrich Jasper from the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing, in California. He believes such a treatment could eventually lead to the extension of people's lives.
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Conducting his research using fruit flies, Jasper found that the bacterial load in the flies' intestines increases dramatically with age, resulting in an inflammatory condition. The imbalance is driven by chronic activation of the stress response gene FOXO, something that occurs with age, suppressing the activity of a type of molecule that regulates the immune system's response to bacteria.
This changes the behavior of molecules (Rel/NFkB) that are important in the effectiveness of the immune system's response to gut bacteria. The end result is an immune imbalance which allows bacterial numbers to expand, triggering an inflammatory response that includes the production of free radicals.
This in turn causes over-production of stem cells in the gut. This can eventually result in cancer.
Jasper says that the most exciting result of their study occurred when his team increased the production of PGRP-SC in cells in the gut, which restored the bacteria balance and limited stem cell growth.
"If we can understand how ageing affects our [gut bacteria] - first in the fly and then in humans - our data suggest that we should be able to impact health span and life span quite strongly, because it is the management of the [gut bacteria] that is critical to the health of the organism," Jasper says.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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