The human gut hosts a large and diverse ecosystem of microbes termed the gut microbiome.
Microbiome imbalances, often affecting the interplay of the microbes with the host immune system, have been linked to a variety of diseases. Being amenable for modulation, for example via diet and probiotics, the gut microbiome is a potential target of high interest for promoting human well-being.
Since the proportion of Europeans above 65 is expected to double from 2010 to 2050, healthy aging is an important issue on the European policy agenda. Aging has been linked to an enhanced pro-inflammatory status, and many age-associated diseases involve inflammation.
Changes in the taxonomic composition of the gut microbiome with age that associate with increased frailty among the elderly have been described. However, the evidence is still limited and possible interventions remain to be explored. Moreover, changes in the pro-inflammatory potential of gut microbes can occur without coinciding compositional changes of the microbiome.
To address these issues, we propose an approach combining high-throughput sequencing, immunoglobulin A-based cell sorting, microscopy, and bioinformatics to explore differences in the composition and pro-inflammatory potential of the gut microbiome of young and older Danish individuals.
Using mouse as model system, we will further explore whether a periodic fasting scheme with established metabolic health benefits when applied from middle to old age promotes gut microbiome modulations.
The project will be supervised by associate professor Manimozhiyan Arumugam at the Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR, University of Copenhagen). CBMR excels in research on the impact of the gut microbiome on metabolic and inflammatory disorders. This environment of expertise as well as access to human microbiome samples with associated information on health status will be a key asset to this project.
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