Effectiveness of the gut’s immune responses lessens as people grow older, but a new study has shown that rejuvenation of the aged gut immune system is possible. The findings were printed in a ‘Nature Communications’ paper in recent times.
Major changes in the composition of the gut microbiome take place at beginning of life and in older years. The reasons why aged people experience more of intestinal ailments has been attributed by scientists to the changes in the functioning and composition of the gut microbiome which has an effect on an individual’s health.
The new study involved analysis of Peyer’s patches in the context of a continuous ‘cross-talk’ occurring between the immune cells and the gut bacteria. Peyer’s patches are the intestine’s immune sensors and are present in the gut’s lymphoid tissue in the form of follicles. The function of Peyer’s patches is to direct the gut’s immune system to fight or tolerate a perceived threat depending upon the responses received from the germinal centers within them.
The study author, Marisa Stebegg said that earlier studies had indicated a link between the gut microbiome and the responses from the germinal centers. However, they were not clear whether the decline in gut functioning in an aged person was because of the microbiome’s influence on the germinal center responses or vice versa.
The study involved a comparison of Peyer’s patches in aged and young mice. It found that there was a reduced germinal center response in aged mice. Mice were habituated to nibble at one another’s droppings and therefore, the old and young mice were cohoused together. It was noticed that the germinal center response in aged mice had increased and this was enhanced further on fecal pellets transplantation from the young mice.
The team arrived at a conclusion that decline in the gut immune response due to age was reversible and rejuvenation was an option to enable individuals to age healthily.
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