Indian scientists recently identified a next-generation probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus plantarum JBC5, from a dairy product that showed promise in promoting healthy ageing. The team has also developed a yoghurt using this probiotic bacterium.
Medical science has increased life expectancy and there has been a rapid growth of the ageing population. The United Nations forecasts that one in eleven people will be older than 65 by 2050. However, ageing is generally associated with a higher risk of age-related health issues, such as obesity, neurodegenerative disease (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. This has sparked the quest for scientific ways to promote healthy ageing.
Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, searched for healthy bacteria in fermented dairy products, following the proposal of the Nobel laureate Dr Elie Metchnikoff.
They found that Lactobacillus plantarum JBC5 showed great promise in promoting healthy ageing in a model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans , a worm with genetic characteristics similar to those of humans. “The Caenorhabditis elegans genome possesses homologs of about two-thirds of all human disease genes,” says a scientific paper published in 2020. Based on its physiological ageing characteristics and superiority, C. elegans has been widely used as a model system for studies on ageing, age-related diseases, mechanisms of longevity, and drug screening, the paper says.
The study, led by Mojibur R Khan, Associate Professor, and Ashis K Mukherjee, Director, in collaboration with Prof MC Kalita of Guwahati University and research scholars Arun Kumar and Tulsi Joishy, has shown that Lactobacillus plantarum JBC5 improves longevity and healthy ageing by modulating antioxidative, innate immunity and serotonin-signalling pathways in Caenorhabditis elegans. The findings were recently published in the journal Antioxidant. The worms fed on LP JBC5 showed more expression of “anti-oxidative, thermo-tolerant and anti-pathogenic genes”, says the paper. Also, the bacterium demonstrated a 27.81 per cent increase in the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans, along with signs of healthy ageing: improved immunity against pathogenic infections, increased learning ability and memory, gut integrity, and oxidative stress tolerance. Conversely, it significantly reduced the accumulation of body fat and inflammation.
Mukherjee said the probiotic promises to delay the onset of age-associated diseases such as obesity, decline in cognitive functions, and immunity. The impact of a single bacterium on pro-longevity and healthy aeging, including enhancement of gut integrity and cognitive functions, makes it an ideal candidate for a next-generation probiotic, the paper says.
February 13, 2022