Microbial communities, including genes and metabolic products of gut microbes are called the gut microbiome. Gut microbes among adult healthy human beings are generally considered to be rich, diverse and subject to fine regulation by metabolic pathways, gender, diet and exercise in an age dependent manner. As we age, there is a shift in distribution and richness of the human microbiome composition that is often associated with health problems including chronic lifestyle diseases, cognitive decline and cancer.
Furthermore, accelerated ageing is generally a manifestation of hidden chronic disease, often dysfunction in more than one organ of the body. Accelerated ageing is also associated with reduced diversification of the gut microbiome that further increases the risk to develop disease. The mechanisms underlying age-related changes in microbiome composition are not known nor do we know the mechanisms by which microbiome richness and diversification can be sustained.
Current understanding of maintaining human health span assumes a holistic view, where intervention to prevent or reverse a given organ decline should be addressed by targeting multiple organs, including gut microbes, as we age. Such a holistic perspective requires detailed knowledge of mechanisms regulating organ-to-organ cross talk, including communication with gut microbes. The gut microbiome theme is dedicated to identifying the molecular dynamics of interorgan cross talk and interaction with gut microbes and to translate this information to develop diagnostic and prognostic tools to help identify the baseline and the transition from a healthy to a disease state.
The Gut Microbiome thematic platform includes studies using animal models, ex vivo organoids and population health data. Research activities include, but are not limited to, identification of signalling pathways and molecules that regulate microbe host interactions during health and disease, including brain function, skin biology, liver function and metabonomic biochemical research that identify microbial metabolites guiding metabolic homeostasis in our body. Of particular interest are research programmes to understand the interaction between gut microbes and the immune system and how this contributes to maintaining cognition as we age. The gut microbiome thematic research engine is dedicated to delivering integrated pathways to sustaining human health life span and slowing down ageing symptoms by food intervention regimes.