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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Apr 17;73(5):571-578. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx197.

Impact of Age-Related Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Exercise on Intestinal Microbiota Composition.

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Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences and Institute of Neuroscience, Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne.
School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne.
LLHW Newcastle University Centre for Ageing and Vitality, Faculty of Medicine, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Mitochondrial dysfunction is prevalent in the aging gastrointestinal tract. We investigated whether mitochondrial function in aging colonic crypts and exercise influences microbial gut communities in mice. Twelve PolgAmut/mut mice were randomly divided into a sedentary and exercise group at 4 months. Seven-aged matched PolgA+/+ mice remained sedentary throughout. Stool samples were collected at 4, 7, and 11 months, and bacterial profiling was achieved through 16S rRNA sequencing profiling. Mitochondrial enzyme activity was assessed in colonic epithelial crypts at 11 months for PolgAmut/mut and PolgA+/+ mice. Sedentary and exercised PolgAmut/mut mice had significantly higher levels of mitochondrial dysfunction than PolgA+/+ mice (78%, 77%, and 1% of crypts, respectively). Bacterial profiles of sedentary PolgAmut/mut mice were significantly different from the sedentary PolgA+/+ mice, with increases in Lactobacillus and Mycoplasma, and decreases in Alistipes, Odoribacter, Anaeroplasma, Rikenella, Parabacteroides, and Allobaculum in the PolgAmut/mut mice. Exercise did not have any impact upon gut mitochondrial dysfunction; however, exercise did increase gut microbiota diversity and significantly increased bacterial genera Mucispirillum and Desulfovibrio. Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with changes in the gut microbiota. Endurance exercise moderated some of these changes, establishing that environmental factors can influence gut microbiota, despite mitochondrial dysfunction.

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