The effect of ageing with and without non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on gastrointestinal microbiology and immunology

Br J Nutr. 2008 Jul;100(1):130-7. doi: 10.1017/S000711450888871X. Epub 2008 Feb 18.


Elderly individuals are more susceptible to gastrointestinal problems such as constipation than young adults. Furthermore, the common use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) among the elderly is known to further increase such gastrointestinal ailments. To describe the specific changes in elderly, intestinal microbes, their metabolites and immune markers were measured from faecal samples obtained from fifty-five elderly individuals (aged 68-88 years), using either NSAID or not, and fourteen young adults (aged 21-39 years). The faecal DM content increased with age but was significantly lower among the elderly NSAID users. The microbial metabolism was especially influenced by NSAID use and/or ageing, although fewer changes were observed in the composition of the microbial community, whilst the level of aerobes was increased in the elderly and the level of Clostridium coccoides-Eubacterium rectale reduced in the elderly NSAID users as compared with young adults. An increase in the concentrations of some branched SCFA and l-lactate but a decrease in some major SCFA concentrations were observed. Evidently, the decreased defecation frequency in the elderly directed colonic fermentation toward an unfavourable microbial metabolism but this was partially offset by the use of NSAID. Irrespective of the use of NSAID, the elderly subjects had significantly lower concentrations of faecal PGE2 than the young adults, reflecting possibly a reduced immune response. According to the present study more attention should be paid to the development of dietary products that seek to enhance bowel function, saccharolytic fermentation and immune stimulation in the elderly population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / immunology
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Defecation / drug effects
  • Defecation / physiology
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Laxatives / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Laxatives
  • Dinoprostone