Muscle strength in old age depends on the composition of the intestinal microbiome

Scientists from Tufts University (USA) found differences in microbiota composition in elderly people with high and low levels of physical development. The experiment also found that transplanting a microbiome from strong older people to mice increases the muscle strength of animals. 

In recent years, the relationship between the intestines and muscles (the "gut – muscle" axis) has been the focus of many scientists. Experts from Tufts University conducted a study in which 29 elderly people were involved: 18 people had developed muscle tissue, they differed in muscle strength and physical endurance, 11 participants showed a low percentage of muscle mass and high – fat, as well as low indicators of strength and endurance.

Examination of the composition of the intestinal microbiota revealed differences between the two groups of people. Older participants with developed physical mass  showed an increased concentration of four types of bacteria in the microbiome: Prevotellaceae, Prevotella, Barnesiella and Barnesiella intestinihominis. These microorganisms are actively involved in the synthesis of propionate, providing muscle strength and endurance. They also produce fatty acids that supply muscle cells with energy. 

During the experiment, scientists transplanted microbiome from the intestines of hardy elderly people to sterile mice. After a while, investigators assessed how the parameters of the body and indicators of strength and endurance of rodents have changed. It turned out that mice with transplanted microbiota became stronger: scientists had to exert more effort to overcome the resistance of animals holding on to the bars of the cage. At the same time, parameters such as endurance and the ratio of fat and muscle tissue in the body of mice have not changed. Experts plan to conduct further research in this direction to identify reliable mechanisms of influence of microbiota composition on muscles.

Sept. 19, 2019, 11:21 a.m.

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