PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This article summarizes the advances of research on the role of the intestinal microbiota in influencing sarcopenia, frailty, and cognitive dysfunction in older individuals, and thus its relevance for healthy active ageing. RECENT FINDINGS: Age-related alterations of intestinal microbiota composition may negatively influence muscle protein synthesis and function by promoting chronic systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and reducing nutrient bioavailability. However, this 'gut-muscle axis' hypothesis is not supported by human data to date. Some observational studies have instead demonstrated that, in older individuals, frailty and Alzheimer-type dementia are associated with fecal microbiota dysbiosis, that is, reduced biodiversity and overexpression of pathobionts. The main possible mechanisms of the 'gut-brain axis' in cognitive function modulation include effects on neurotransmission, neuroinflammation, and amyloid deposition. Conversely, longevity in good health may be associated with the maintenance of a fecal microbiota composition similar to that of healthy young adults. However, the role of gut microbiota as an independent modulator of frailty and cognition still remains uncertain, being influenced by several physiological factors, including diet and exercise. SUMMARY: The intestinal microbiome composition represents a possible determinant of functional performance in older people, and a promising target for antiaging therapeutic interventions.
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