Earlier studies have indicated a decrease in anaerobes and bifidobacteria and a concomitant increase in enterobacteria in the intestinal microbiota with ageing. However, new data obtained with molecular techniques suggests decreased stability and increased diversity of the gut microbiota with advancing age. Further, no simple marker change in microbiota composition can be identified. Except for the reduced immune function, ageing itself may have relatively little effect on overall gastrointestinal function. Concomitant changes in nutrition, increased incidence of disease and corresponding use of medication with advancing age modify the composition of the microbial community of the gastrointestinal tract. This mini-review will focus on the recent findings on the gut microbiota of the elderly and on the potential benefits of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics.
Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.