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Immunosenescence and the gut microbiota: the role of probiotics and prebiotics

Toward, R. E., Walton, G. E. ORCID: and Gibson, G. R. (2012) Immunosenescence and the gut microbiota: the role of probiotics and prebiotics. Nutrition and Aging, 1 (3-4). pp. 167-180. ISSN 1879-7725

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3233/NUA-130014


The global population is becoming increasingly older presenting medical and economic challenges to society. One factor associated with the aging process is immunosenescence, which may be defined as the decline in immunity with age, and represents a potential causative factor for many age related illnesses. The profile of the gut microbiota is also known to alter with aging and these changes have been linked the declines in the immunity observed in immunosenescence. For example, above the age of 60 years populations of bifidobacteria have been observed to decrease markedly, leading to a reduction in the inhibition of the growth of some pathogens and potentially an increase in the susceptibility to infections. As such, an interest exists in attempting to reverse their decline in elderly individuals, through the use of both probiotics and prebiotics. Both approaches have shown to be encouraging in altering microbiota profiles beneficially and in reducing immunosenescence by reducing the colonisation potential of pathogens and counteracting chronic inflammation. The current review will give an overview of the process of immunosenescence and its role in disease, detail how the microbiota are involved in its progression and highlight data suggesting that pre- and probiotics may counteract these age-related events.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Food Microbial Sciences Research Group
ID Code:32002
Uncontrolled Keywords:Age, gut, bacteria, bifidobacteria, fermentation, immunity, metabolism, probiotics, prebiotics
Publisher:IOS Press

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