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Biological significance of gut microbiota changes associated with ageing 

Biological significance of gut microbiota changes associated with ageing
Chapter:
Biological significance of gut microbiota changes associated with ageing
Author(s):

Kevin Horgan

, Fergus Shanahan

, and Paul W. O’Toole

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198701590.003.0047
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date: 19 August 2019

The concept that the commensal gut microbiota might influence the ageing process is not new. Awareness of the gastrointestinal microbiota and its potential role in host health was recognized in the late nineteenth century. Metchnikoff was a proponent of the value of fermented foods in promoting healthy ageing and proposed that the beneficial effect was a consequence of modulation of the resident colonic bacterial ‘flora’. His conviction could not be substantiated because of the lack of tools necessary to address the issue rigorously in that era. A century later, advanced technology has established the role of the human microbiota in health and disease. Emerging information is leading to a fundamentally revised understanding of many aspects of human development and disease that takes into account the role of the microbiota. This chapter addresses current knowledge of the relationship of the microbiome to human ageing, and outlines the prospects for monitoring and modulating the gut microbiota to promote healthy ageing.

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