With the progress in nutrition and medicine, the life-expectancy of people has increased. In industrialized societies this has led to increasing costs and spending for health care and medical treatment of their senior citizens. Growing scientific evidence suggests that aging alters the intestinal microbiota qualitatively and quantitatively, generating a different microbial community with an aberrant structure. The intestinal microbiota in the elderly is colonized by fewer bifidobacteria, and more potentially infectious microbes compared to infants and young adults. Furthermore, there is a decrease in the species diversity in bifidobacteria! population of the elderly which is dominated by Bifidobacterium adolescentis and B. longum. The advanced affinity of B. adolescentis to mucus both isolated from the elderly suggests a deep symbiotic relationship between this microbe and host. The elevated ability of B. adolescentis to enhance the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine, particularly IL-12, by macrophages and monocytes suggests that this endogenous bacterium may play an important role in the maintenance of the CMI which can be impaired by age-related immunosenescence. This evidence can be used as the basis to consider B. adolescentis from the healthy elderly as a reasonable probiotic candidate for targeting the elderly, a growing subpopulation more prone to infection and autoimmune disease.

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