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J Nutr Health Aging. 2014 Nov;18(9):773-86. doi: 10.1007/s12603-014-0513-5.

Compositional dynamics of the human intestinal microbiota with aging: implications for health.

Author information

R. Paul Ross, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland. Email:, Tel: 00353 (0)25 42229, Fax: 00353 (0)25 42340.


The human gut contains trillions of microbes which form an essential part of the complex ecosystem of the host. This microbiota is relatively stable throughout adult life, but may fluctuate over time with aging and disease. The gut microbiota serves a number of functions including roles in energy provision, nutrition and also in the maintenance of host health such as protection against pathogens. This review summarizes the age-related changes in the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and the link between the gut microbiota in health and disease. Understanding the composition and function of the gut microbiota along with the changes it undergoes overtime should aid the design of novel therapeutic strategies to counteract such alterations. These strategies include probiotic and prebiotic preparations as well as targeted nutrients, designed to enrich the gut microbiota of the aging population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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