Gut Microbiota and Extreme Longevity

Elena Biagi, Claudio Franceschi, Simone Rampelli, Marco Severgnini, Rita Ostan, Silvia Turroni, Clarissa Consolandi, Sara Quercia, Maria Scurti, Daniela Monti, Miriam Capri, Patrizia Brigidi, Marco Candela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of the extreme limits of human lifespan may allow a better understanding of how human beings can escape, delay, or survive the most frequent age-related causes of morbidity, a peculiarity shown by long-living individuals. Longevity is a complex trait in which genetics, environment, and stochasticity concur to determine the chance to reach 100 or more years of age [1]. Because of its impact on human metabolism and immunology, the gut microbiome has been proposed as a possible determinant of healthy aging [2, 3]. Indeed, the preservation of host-microbes homeostasis can counteract inflammaging [4], intestinal permeability [5], and decline in bone and cognitive health [6, 7]. Aiming at deepening our knowledge on the relationship between the gut microbiota and a long-living host, we provide for the first time the phylogenetic microbiota analysis of semi-supercentenarians, i.e., 105-109 years old, in comparison to adults, elderly, and centenarians, thus reconstructing the longest available human microbiota trajectory along aging. We highlighted the presence of a core microbiota of highly occurring, symbiotic bacterial taxa (mostly belonging to the dominant Ruminococcaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Bacteroidaceae families), with a cumulative abundance decreasing along with age. Aging is characterized by an increasing abundance of subdominant species, as well as a rearrangement in their co-occurrence network. These features are maintained in longevity and extreme longevity, but peculiarities emerged, especially in semi-supercentenarians, describing changes that, even accommodating opportunistic and allochthonous bacteria, might possibly support health maintenance during aging, such as an enrichment and/or higher prevalence of health-associated groups (e.g., Akkermansia, Bifidobacterium, and Christensenellaceae). Biagi et al. reconstructed the longest available human microbiota trajectory by analyzing persons >105 years old, compared to adults, elderly, and centenarians. In longevity, the age-related increase of subdominant species is boosted, accommodating, along with pro-inflammatory species, also health-associated taxa that might support extreme aging.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 24 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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