The aging mouse microbiome has obesogenic characteristics

Genome Med. 2020 Oct 12;12(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s13073-020-00784-9.


Background: During aging, there is a physiological decline, an increase of morbidity and mortality, and a natural change in the gut microbiome. In this study, we investigated the influence of the gut microbiome on different metabolic parameters in adult and aged mice.

Methods: Fecal and blood samples from adult (n = 42, 100-300 days) and aging (n = 32, 550-750 days) mice were collected. Microbiome analysis was done using QIIME2. Mouse weight and body composition were measured using NMR, and insulin and leptin levels in the blood were measured with Mouse Adipokine Magnetic Bead Panel kit. Fecal microbiota transplantation experiments from adult and aged mice into young germ-free mice were carried out in order to examine the effect of the gut microbiome of adult and aging mice on weight, body composition, insulin, and leptin.

Results: We demonstrate that the microbiomes from adult and aged mice are distinguishable. We also report changes in metabolic parameters as we observed significantly higher weight and fat mass and low lean mass in aged compared to adult mice along with high insulin and leptin levels in the blood. The transplanted gut microbiome from aged mice transferred part of the phenotypes seen in aged mice. Fat body mass and insulin levels were higher in the mice who received feces from aged mice than mice receiving feces from adult mice. In addition, they consumed more food and had a higher respiratory quotient compared to mice receiving adult feces.

Conclusions: We conclude that aged mice have a gut microbiota with obesogenic characteristics. In addition, the gut bacterial population itself is sufficient to induce some of the manifestations of obesity.

Keywords: Aging; Fecal microbiota transplantation; Metabolism; Microbiome.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microbiota*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Phenotype