Longevity

Scientists Find Probiotic Improves Longevity of Mice

Spanish scientists find that a probiotic prolongs lifespan, rejuvenates strength and coordination, and improves the immune system of old mice.

By Yedida Bogachkov, Ph.D.

Key Points:

  • Old mice supplemented with Akkermansia muciniphila (AKK) for a month live longer. 
  • AKK treatment rejuvenates coordination and strength while alleviating anxiety.
  • Treatment heightens the immune response and reduces inflammation and cellular (oxidative) stress. 

Health maintenance arises through various bodily systems, all of which slowly deteriorate as we age. If these systems, including the nervous, endocrine (hormone), and immune system, can be sustained as we age, would we age more gracefully? One study looking at probiotic supplementation in mice points to the answer as yes. 

The study, by scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid, published in Biogerontology, focused on elderly female mice supplemented with AKK, a probiotic – beneficial type of bacteria found naturally in the intestines. The researchers found that supplementing mice with AKK improved coordination, balance, and anxiety-like behaviors, which are normally negatively affected by age. Immune function and cellular stress were also improved following treatment. These improvements served to increase the lifespans of the probiotic-treated mice.

“Our data indicate that AKK [Akkermansia muciniphila] supplementation for a short period could be a good nutritional strategy to promote healthy longevity,” the investigators wrote.

Improved Longevity with Probiotic Treatment

Elderly mice (72 weeks old – approximately 65 years old in human years) were supplemented daily with AKK for one month. This led to an increase in lifespan. This increase in lifespan seemed to coalesce as a result of improvements in healthspan – the duration of life lived in good health, as will be described next.

probiotic increases survival of old mice
(Cerro et al., 2022 | Biogerontology) Probiotic Improves Survival of Old Mice. Some (two) old mice given AKK for a month (OA – dashed line) survived longer than old untreated mice (OC – solid line).

By testing coordination and strength using behavioral tests, the researchers found that probiotic-supplemented mice have scores similar to younger, adult mice (aged 40 weeks – approximately 45 years old in human years), suggesting that AKK rejuvenates coordination and strength. Additionally, the treated mice display decreased anxiety-like behavior compared to the untreated old mice, as measured by more time spent in the open arms of an elevated maze. 

probiotic increases lifespan of mice
(Cerro et al., 2022 | Biogerontology) Probiotic Improves the Healthspan of Old Mice. Compared to old untreated mice (OC), old mice treated with AKK (OA) have improved coordination and strength, as measured by a) wood rod and b) tight-rope tests. OA mice also have anxiety levels, as assessed using the (f) elevated plus mazes, similar to younger adult mice (AC).

Two underlying contributors to aging are inflammation and oxidative stress – damage caused to cellular components like DNA by reactive oxygen species. Inflammation and oxidative stress may be exacerbated by age-related immune system decline. It was found that AKK-treated mice have increased immune function, suggesting a reversal of this decline. Namely, the treated mice had immune responses similar to the younger, adult mice with similar levels of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules. Furthermore, the old, untreated mice had higher oxidative stress levels than the mice treated with AKK.

Can Probiotics Improve Longevity in Humans?

The results of this study show that supplementing old mice with a probiotic improves behaviors related to neuronal function, including coordination and balance. Previous studies have found similar results with other probiotics in rodent models, indicating that probiotics may help maintain our nervous system as we age. Indeed, other studies indicate that probiotics may also help with anxiety. The communication between gut bacteria (including probiotics) and the nervous, endocrine, and immune system may explain how probiotics affect inflammation, oxidative stress, and immunity.

The increase in healthspan and lifespan – longevity – seen with probiotic supplementation shown in these studies makes a strong case for taking daily probiotics to help with age-related concerns. The probiotic utilized in this study, Akkermansia mucciniphila, is available from online retailers, although a side-by-side study would need to be conducted to tease out the differences between this particular bacterial strain and others. Most probiotics can be taken with minimal side effects, although as always, check with your doctor before starting any new medications or supplements.

Model & Dosage

Model: female ICR-CD1 mice

Dosage (oral): 2 x 10^8 cfu/100µL AKK daily for one month

Source

Cerro ED, Lambea M, Félix J, Salazar N, Gueimonde M, De la Fuente M. Daily ingestion of Akkermansia mucciniphila for one month promotes healthy aging and increases lifespan in old female mice. Biogerontology. 2022 Feb;23(1):35-52. doi: 10.1007/s10522-021-09943-w. Epub 2021 Nov 2. PMID: 34729669.

References

De la Fuente M. The Role of the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in the Health and Illness Condition: A Focus on Alzheimer’s Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;81(4):1345-1360. doi: 10.3233/JAD-201587. PMID: 33935086.

Shen Q, Shang N, Li P. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant activity of Bifidobacterium animalis 01 isolated from centenarians. Curr Microbiol. 2011 Apr;62(4):1097-103. doi: 10.1007/s00284-010-9827-7. Epub 2010 Dec 4. PMID: 21132298.

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