Advanced age is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation, which is usually referred to as inflammaging. Elderly are also known to have an altered gut microbiota composition. However, whether inflammaging is a cause or consequence of an altered gut microbiota composition is not clear. In this study, gut microbiota from young or old conventional mice was transferred to young germ-free (GF) mice. Four weeks after gut microbiota transfer immune cell populations in spleen, Peyer's patches, and mesenteric lymph nodes from conventionalized GF mice were analyzed by flow cytometry. In addition, whole-genome gene expression in the ileum was analyzed by microarray. Gut microbiota composition of donor and recipient mice was analyzed with 16S rDNA sequencing. Here, we show by transferring aged microbiota to young GF mice that certain bacterial species within the aged microbiota promote inflammaging. This effect was associated with lower levels of Akkermansia and higher levels of TM7 bacteria and Proteobacteria in the aged microbiota after transfer. The aged microbiota promoted inflammation in the small intestine in the GF mice and enhanced leakage of inflammatory bacterial components into the circulation was observed. Moreover, the aged microbiota promoted increased T cell activation in the systemic compartment. In conclusion, these data indicate that the gut microbiota from old mice contributes to inflammaging after transfer to young GF mice.
Keywords: aging; germ-free mice; gut microbiome; immune system; inflammaging.