January 7, 2021

New study finds a link between premature aging and gut bacteria using Add Health Wave V data

Gut bacteria

Linkages between microbiota and physiologic aging and age-related disease have typically been examined in older adults.  However, recent evidence indicates biological aging likely begins as early as the 30s, especially when it comes to immune and metabolic biomarker abnormalities. Understanding how gut microbiota and markers of immune and metabolic aging are connected earlier in the life course may help us understand their influence on health later in life.  Researchers recently utilized Add Health data in order to study these connections. 

Audrey Renson et al. analyzed biomarker, fecal micriobiome, and gene expression data from Waves IV and V of Add Health – when participants were between the ages of 24 and 42 – to study early adulthood associations between gut microbiome and the hallmarks of aging and immunity. By simultaneously examining biomarkers associated with interconnected aging mechanisms of metabolism, macromolecular damage, inflammation, and immunosenescence with transcriptomic markers of aging, Renson et al. found specific taxa potentially involved in the cellular aging process and thus age-related disease. These findings suggest specific microbiota may lead to cellular influences earlier than previously found. Interventions on gut microbiome earlier in life, be it through vaccines, probiotic supplements, or diet changes, may prevent unnecessary premature aging.

Due to its longitudinal design, the Add Health data from Wave I-V provide the data for researchers to develop a clearer picture of how health throughout the life course is affected by demographics, social and familial environments, behavior, biomarkers, anthropometric measures, and genetics. Microbiome and gene expression data release for contract users is forthcoming.


Audrey Renson, MPH

Kathleen Mullan Harris, PhD

Jennifer B Dowd, PhD

Lauren Gaydosh, PhD

Matthew B. McQueen, ScD

Kenneth S. Krauter, PhD

Michael Shannahan, Prof. Dr.

Allison E. Aiello, PhD

Audrey Renson, MPH, Kathleen Mullan Harris, PhD, Jennifer B Dowd, PhD, Lauren Gaydosh, PhD, Matthew B McQueen, ScD, Kenneth S Krauter, PhD, Michael Shannahan, Prof. Dr., Allison E Aiello, PhD, Early Signs of Gut Microbiome Aging: Biomarkers of Inflammation, Metabolism, and Macromolecular Damage in Young Adulthood, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 75, Issue 7, July 2020, Pages 1258–1266,