Purpose of review: Recent studies suggest an association between inflammation status and the presence of chronic disease in the elderly. The review examines publications that address the low level of chronic inflammation and emphasizes how an altered host-microbiota interaction at the gut level could contribute to maintaining a low systemic inflammatory status in the elderly.
Recent findings: The first population cross-sectional studies with relevant numbers of healthy elderlies show age-related global changes in gut microbiota with a consistent increase in nonpathogenic Gram-negative mainly Enterobacteria and country-specific changes in bifidobacteria. Noninvasive methods have permitted us to detect subclinical intestinal inflammation in the elderly population. Furthermore, few studies report on immune and/or inflammatory response; however, prebiotics, probiotics or synbiotics might improve the inflammatory condition of the elderly.
Summary: A better understanding of the mechanisms of host-gut microbiota cross-talk would significantly help in the design of novel nutritional strategies targeting immune reactivity at the mucosal level.