Intestinal permeability, microbial translocation and immunesenescence

  • Jessica Conway (Speaker)

Activity: Academic and Industrial eventsGuest lecture or Invited talk


The intestinal microbiome impacts multiple organ systems, including the immune system. However, older adults have reduced gut microbiota diversity, termed microbial dysbiosis, and increased intestinal membrane permeability. Moreover, advancing age is accompanied by impairment in the host’s ability to mount a robust immune response to invading pathogens, termed immunesenescence, with a paradoxical increase in systemic pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, known as inflammageing. The potential links between age-related microbial dysbiosis, increased intestinal membrane permeability, inflammageing and immunesenescence are poorly understood. Thus, to address this knowledge gap we conducted an observational study performing detailed immune phenotyping and functional assays in healthy young (n = 40) and old (n = 40) participants to investigate associations with markers of microbial translocation. Our results revealed an age-associated increase in intestinal permeability (occludin) and circulating microbial products (lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LPB)), which significantly increased with the consumption of a diet rich in saturated fats and poor in dietary fibres. Additionally, we found that increased microbial translocation was positively associated with the frequency of peripheral classical monocytes, activated (CD69+ve) T cells, memory T cells, senescent (CD28-veCD57+ve) T cells and regulatory (Foxp3+ve) T cells. Furthermore, we observed significant associations between circulating microbial products and circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα. These findings suggest that therapies targeting intestinal membrane barrier permeability may serve as a novel strategy for reversing immunesenescence and inflammageing in older people.
Period2 Jul 2021
Event titleInaugural Birmingham Inflammation, Repair and Ageing (BIRA) Conference
Event typeConference