Signs of aging in midlife: physical function and sex differences in microbiota

Roy Tzemah-Shahar, Sondra Turjeman, Efrat Sharon, Gila Gamliel, Hagit Hochner, Omry Koren, Maayan Agmon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Microbiota composition has been linked to physical activity, health measures, and biological age, but a shared profile has yet to be shown. The aim of this study was to examine the associations between microbiota composition and measures of function, such as a composite measure of physical capacity, and biological age in midlife, prior to onset of age-related diseases. Seventy healthy midlife individuals (age 44.58 ± 0.18) were examined cross-sectionally, and their gut-microbiota profile was characterized from stool samples using 16SrRNA gene sequencing. Biological age was measured using the Klemera-Doubal method and a composition of blood and physiological biomarkers. Physical capacity was calculated based on sex-standardized functional tests. We demonstrate that the women had significantly richer microbiota, p = 0.025; however, microbiota diversity was not linked with chronological age, biological age, or physical capacity for either women or men. Men had slightly greater β-diversity; however, β-diversity was positively associated with biological age and with physical capacity for women only (p = 0.01 and p = 0.04; respectively). For women, an increase in abundance of Roseburia faecis and Collinsella aerofaciens, as well as genus Ruminococcus and Dorea, was significantly associated with higher biological age and lower physical capacity; an increase in abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila and genera Bacteroides and Alistipes was associated with younger biological age and increased physical capacity. Differentially abundant taxa were also associated with non-communicable diseases. These findings suggest that microbiota composition is a potential mechanism linking physical capacity and health status; personalized probiotics may serve as a new means to support health-promoting interventions in midlife. Investigating additional factors underlying this link may facilitate the development of a more accurate method to estimate the rate of aging.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1477-1488
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to American Aging Association.


  • Biological age
  • Exercise
  • Microbiome
  • Non-communicable disease


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