Aging, Frailty, and the Microbiome-How Dysbiosis Influences Human Aging and Disease

Gastroenterology. 2021 Jan;160(2):507-523. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.09.060. Epub 2020 Dec 8.


The human gut microbiome is a collection of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses that coexist in our bodies and are essential in protective, metabolic, and physiologic functions of human health. Gut dysbiosis has traditionally been linked to increased risk of infection, but imbalances within the intestinal microbial community structure that correlate with untoward inflammatory responses are increasingly recognized as being involved in disease processes that affect many organ systems in the body. Furthermore, it is becoming more apparent that the connection between gut dysbiosis and age-related diseases may lie in how the gut microbiome communicates with both the intestinal mucosa and the systemic immune system, given that these networks have a common interconnection to frailty. We therefore discuss recent advances in our understanding of the important role the microbiome plays in aging and how this knowledge opens the door for potential novel therapeutics aimed at shaping a less dysbiotic microbiome to prevent or treat age-related diseases.

Keywords: Age-related Diseases; Elderly; Frailty; Inflammation; Microbiome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dysbiosis / chemically induced
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology*
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology
  • Frailty / microbiology
  • Frailty / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Health
  • Host Microbial Interactions / physiology*
  • Human Development / physiology
  • Humans