The fecal microbiota plays an important role in human health, and alterations in the microbiota–host interaction seem to be involved in the ageing process. Therefore, it is of interest to develop strategies for promoting a balanced microbiota in old age in order to prevent the physiological and immune decline associated with age. However, the specific microbiota changes in the transition from adulthood to senescence are not yet well understood. Here we assessed the levels of some intestinal microorganisms and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) across different age-groups. In total, 153 adults from four age groups (<50, 50–65, 66–80, and >80 years-old) were recruited; the levels of different bacterial groups in fecal samples were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), and those of SCFA by gas chromatography. Dietary information was collected by using a Food Frequency Questionnaire. The presence of the Bifidobacterium
group, and Clostridium
cluster XIVa decreased with age up to 66–80 years of age, with differences reaching statistical significance for the latter group. Interestingly, the levels of some of these microorganisms recovered in the very old age group (>80 years), with these older individuals presenting significantly higher counts of Akkermansia
group than adults and the younger elderly. In addition, ageing was associated with a progressively and statistically significant reduction in the fecal concentrations of SCFAs. Dietary intakes also showed some statistically significant differences among the groups for some macro- and micronutrients. Moreover, associations of some microorganisms with age and macronutrients were also evidenced. Considering the role that fecal microbiota alterations may have in terms of impairing homeostasis and resilience, our results underline the importance of understanding the ageing and immunosenescence processes by including the microbiota perspective.
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