The microbiota and microbiome in aging: potential implications in health and age-related diseases

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Apr;63(4):776-81. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13310. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


Advances in bacterial deoxyribonucleic acid sequencing allow for characterization of the human commensal bacterial community (microbiota) and its corresponding genome (microbiome). Surveys of healthy adults reveal that a signature composite of bacteria characterizes each unique body habitat (e.g., gut, skin, oral cavity, vagina). A myriad of clinical changes, including a basal proinflammatory state (inflamm-aging), that directly interface with the microbiota of older adults and enhance susceptibility to disease accompany aging. Studies in older adults demonstrate that the gut microbiota correlates with diet, location of residence (e.g., community dwelling, long-term care settings), and basal level of inflammation. Links exist between the microbiota and a variety of clinical problems plaguing older adults, including physical frailty, Clostridium difficile colitis, vulvovaginal atrophy, colorectal carcinoma, and atherosclerotic disease. Manipulation of the microbiota and microbiome of older adults holds promise as an innovative strategy to influence the development of comorbidities associated with aging.

Keywords: infection; microbiome; older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Clostridioides difficile
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Disease Susceptibility / microbiology
  • Frail Elderly
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Residence Characteristics