Probiotics exert beneficial effects on host health through different mechanisms of action, such as production of antimicrobial substances, competition with pathogens, enhancement of host mucosal barrier integrity and immunomodulation. In the context of ageing, which is characterized by several physiological alterations leading to a low grade inflammatory status called inflammageing, evidences suggest a potential prolongevity role of probiotics. Unraveling the mechanisms underlying anti-ageing effects requires the use of simple model systems. To this respect, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans represents a suitable model organism for the study of both host-microbe interactions and for ageing studies, because of conserved signaling pathways and host defense mechanisms involved in the regulation of its lifespan. Therefore, this review analyses the impact of probiotics on C. elegans age-related parameters, with particular emphasis on oxidative stress, immunity, inflammation and protection from pathogen infections. The picture emerging from our analysis highlights that several probiotic strains are able to exert anti-ageing effects in nematodes by acting on common molecular pathways, such as insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IIS) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK). In this perspective, C. elegans appears to be advantageous for shedding light on key mechanisms involved in host prolongevity in response to probiotics supplementation.
Keywords: ageing; immunosenescence; lifespan; nematode; oxidative stress; pathogen protection; probiotic bacteria.