Early signs of gut microbiome aging: biomarkers of inflammation, metabolism, and macromolecular damage in young adulthood


Renson, Audrey; Mullan Harris, Kathleen; Dowd, Jennifer B.; Gaydosh, Lauren; McQueen, Matthew B.; Krauter, Kenneth S.; Shannahan, Michael; & Aiello, Allison E. (2020). Early signs of gut microbiome aging: biomarkers of inflammation, metabolism, and macromolecular damage in young adulthood. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. , PMCID: PMC7302166


Emerging links between gut microbiota and diseases of aging point to possible shared immune, metabolic, and cellular damage mechanisms, operating long before diseases manifest. We conducted 16S rRNA sequencing of fecal samples collected from a subsample (n=668) of Add Health Wave V, a nationally representative longitudinal study of adults aged 32-42. An overlapping subsample (n=345) included whole blood RNA-seq. We examined associations between fecal taxonomic abundances and dried blood spot-based markers of lipid and glucose homeostasis and C-reactive protein (measured in Wave IV), as well as gene expression markers of inflammation, cellular damage, immune cell composition, and transcriptomic age (measured in Wave V), using Bayesian hierarchical models adjusted for potential confounders. We additionally estimated a co-abundance network between inflammation-related genes and bacterial taxa using penalized Gaussian graphical models. Strong and consistent microbiota associations emerged for HbA1c, glucose, C-reactive protein, and principal components of genes upregulated in inflammation, DNA repair, and reactive oxygen species, with Streptococcus infantis, Pseudomonas spp., and Peptoniphilus as major players for each. This pattern was largely echoed (though attenuated) for immunologic cell composition gene sets, and only Serratia varied meaningfully by transcriptomic age. Network co-abundance indicated relationships between Prevotella sp., Bacteroides sp., and Ruminococcus sp. and gut immune/metabolic regulatory activity, and Ruminococcussp, Dialister, and Butyrivibriocrossotus with balance between Th1 and Th2 inflammation. In conclusion, many common associations between microbiota and major physiologic aging mechanisms are evident in early-mid adulthood, and suggest avenues for early detection and prevention of accelerated aging.




gastrointestinal microbiota

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

The Journals of Gerontology: Series A


Renson, Audrey
Mullan Harris, Kathleen
Dowd, Jennifer B.
Gaydosh, Lauren
McQueen, Matthew B.
Krauter, Kenneth S.
Shannahan, Michael
Aiello, Allison E.

Year Published








Reference ID