Gut microbiome pattern reflects healthy ageing and predicts survival in humans

Tomasz Wilmanski, Christian Diener, Noa Rappaport, Sushmita Patwardhan, Jack Wiedrick, Jodi Lapidus, John C. Earls, Anat Zimmer, Gustavo Glusman, Max Robinson, James T. Yurkovich, Deborah M. Kado, Jane A. Cauley, Joseph Zmuda, Nancy E. Lane, Andrew T. Magis, Jennifer C. Lovejoy, Leroy Hood, Sean M. Gibbons, Eric S. OrwollNathan D. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

271 Scopus citations


The gut microbiome has important effects on human health, yet its importance in human ageing remains unclear. In the present study, we demonstrate that, starting in mid-to-late adulthood, gut microbiomes become increasingly unique to individuals with age. We leverage three independent cohorts comprising over 9,000 individuals and find that compositional uniqueness is strongly associated with microbially produced amino acid derivatives circulating in the bloodstream. In older age (over ~80 years), healthy individuals show continued microbial drift towards a unique compositional state, whereas this drift is absent in less healthy individuals. The identified microbiome pattern of healthy ageing is characterized by a depletion of core genera found across most humans, primarily Bacteroides. Retaining a high Bacteroides dominance into older age, or having a low gut microbiome uniqueness measure, predicts decreased survival in a 4-year follow-up. Our analysis identifies increasing compositional uniqueness of the gut microbiome as a component of healthy ageing, which is characterized by distinct microbial metabolic outputs in the blood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-286
Number of pages13
JournalNature Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cell Biology


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