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Title: Effect of prebiotic B-GOS on the gut microbiota, immune function and metabolism in elderly persons
Author: Toward, Ruth
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 4508
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2014
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The ageing population in Europe is increasing, presenting society with potential medical and economic challenges. Immunosenescence may be defined as deterioration of the immune system with age and is a possible causative factor for many age related illnesses. The colonic microbiota undergoes certain age related changes that may affect health. For example, above the age of 55-65 years, populations of bifidobacteria have been observed to decrease markedly. Evidence shows that bifidobacteria can inhibit pathogens thus a decrease in their activities may increase susceptibility to infections. To date, research into the immunostimulating influences of prebiotics on the elderly is limited. A recent study has however shown promising results with prebiotic B-GOS (Vulevic et aI., 2008). Confirmation of these findings and the metabolic effects of B-GOS in the elderly remain to be elucidated. Hence, this study was primarily aimed at investigating the effect of B-GOS on the gut microbiota composition, immune function and metabolites in an elderly cohort. Here, 40 elderly volunteers (n= 25 females, n=15 males) aged 65 - 80 yrs completed a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study. 2.75g of B-GOS was consumed daily for a period of 10 weeks, followed by a 4 week washout period and then 10 weeks of placebo (or vice versa). Results showed that B-GOS greatly improved the gut microbial composition with significant increases in Bifidobacterium spp. 'H-NMR analysis revealed that this bifidogenic response led to increased lactate in faecal waters. Immunity was enhanced through increased NK cell activity and a reduced pro-inflammatory IL-6 cytokine response. The anti-pathogenic potential of lactate produced by Bifidobacterium spp. (identified in faecal waters) may well provide some explanation for the reduction in pro-inflammation and general improvement to Immune function. This work confirms that prebiotic B-GOS exerts both bifidogenic and Immune boosting effects in the elderly and has the potential to delay the condition of immunosenescence in such individuals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available