Probiotic Bacteria for Healthier Aging: Immunomodulation and Metabolism of Phytoestrogens

Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:5939818. doi: 10.1155/2017/5939818. Epub 2017 Oct 1.


Age-related degeneration gives rise to a number of pathologies, many of them associated with imbalances of the microbiota and the gut-associated immune system. Thus, the intestine is considered a key target organ to improve the quality of life in senescence. Gut microbiota can have a powerful impact in the deterioration linked to aging by its nutritional and immunomodulatory activity. Reduced numbers of beneficial species and low microbial biodiversity in the elderly have been linked with pathogenesis of many diseases. A healthy lifestyle with an elderly customized diet including probiotics can contribute to reducing the chronic proinflammatory status and other age-related pathologies. Beneficial effects of probiotic lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria to alleviate some of these disorders based on their immunomodulatory properties as well as their capacity to produce bioactive metabolites from dietary phytoestrogens are summarized. On one hand, the preservation of gut barrier integrity and an increased ability to fight infections are the main reported immune benefits of probiotics. On the other hand, the intake of a diet rich in phytoestrogens along with the presence of selected probiotic bacteria may lead to the production of equol, enterolignans, and urolithins, which are considered protective against chronic diseases related to aging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immunomodulation
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Phytoestrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Probiotics / metabolism
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life


  • Phytoestrogens