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Aging Cell. 2019 Jun 14:e12980. doi: 10.1111/acel.12980. [Epub ahead of print]

Advanced age promotes colonic dysfunction and gut-derived lung infection after stroke.

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Department of Medicine, Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Medicine (Academic Unit), Peninsula Clinical School, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Frankston, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Microbiology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
Monash Biomedical Imaging, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
Stroke and Ageing Research Group, Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash Medical Centre, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


Bacterial infection a leading cause of death among patients with stroke, with elderly patients often presenting with more debilitating outcomes. The findings from our retrospective study, supported by previous clinical reports, showed that increasing age is an early predictor for developing fatal infectious complications after stroke. However, exactly how and why older individuals are more susceptible to infection after stroke remains unclear. Using a mouse model of transient ischaemic stroke, we demonstrate that older mice (>12 months) present with greater spontaneous bacterial lung infections compared to their younger counterparts (7-10 weeks) after stroke. Importantly, we provide evidence that older poststroke mice exhibited elevated intestinal inflammation and disruption in gut barriers critical in maintaining colonic integrity following stroke, including reduced expression of mucin and tight junction proteins. In addition, our data support the notion that the localized pro-inflammatory microenvironment driven by increased tumour necrosis factor-α production in the colon of older mice facilitates the translocation and dissemination of orally inoculated bacteria to the lung following stroke onset. Therefore, findings of this study demonstrate that exacerbated dysfunction of the intestinal barrier in advanced age promotes translocation of gut-derived bacteria and contributes to the increased risk to poststroke bacterial infection.


aging; bacteria; colon; infection; stroke

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