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

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dave Houghton, Dr Christopher StewartORCiD, Dr Craig Stamp, Professor Anil Wipat, Professor Mike TrenellORCiD, Emeritus Professor Doug Turnbull, Dr Laura Greaves



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Houghton D, Stewart CJ, Stamp C, Nelson A, Ajami NJ, Petrosino JF, Wipat A, Trenell MI, Turnbull DM, Greaves LC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Journals of Gerontology: Series A

Year: 2017

Volume: 73

Issue: 5

Pages: 571-578

Print publication date: 01/05/2018

Online publication date: 16/10/2017

Acceptance date: 13/10/2017

Date deposited: 27/11/2017

ISSN (print): 1079-5006

ISSN (electronic): 1758-535X

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glx197


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Funder referenceFunder name
G0700718Medical Research Council (MRC)