BACKGROUND: The use of Akkermansia muciniphila as potential therapeutic intervention is receiving increasing attention. Health benefits attributed to this bacterium include an improvement of metabolic disorders and exerting anti-inflammatory effects. The abundance of A. muciniphila is associated with a healthy gut in early mid- and later life. However, the effects of A. muciniphila on a decline in intestinal health during the aging process are not investigated yet. We supplemented accelerated aging Ercc1 -/Δ7 mice with A. muciniphila for 10 weeks and investigated histological, transcriptional and immunological aspects of intestinal health.
RESULTS: The thickness of the colonic mucus layer increased about 3-fold after long-term A. muciniphila supplementation and was even significantly thicker compared to mice supplemented with Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1. Colonic gene expression profiles pointed towards a decreased expression of genes and pathways related to inflammation and immune function, and suggested a decreased presence of B cells in colon. Total B cell frequencies in spleen and mesenteric lymph nodes were not altered after A. muciniphila supplementation. Mature and immature B cell frequencies in bone marrow were increased, whereas B cell precursors were unaffected. These findings implicate that B cell migration rather than production was affected by A. muciniphila supplementation. Gene expression profiles in ileum pointed toward a decrease in metabolic- and immune-related processes and antimicrobial peptide production after A. muciniphila supplementation. Besides, A. muciniphila decreased the frequency of activated CD80+CD273- B cells in Peyer's patches. Additionally, the increased numbers of peritoneal resident macrophages and a decrease in Ly6Cint monocyte frequencies in spleen and mesenteric lymph nodes add evidence for the potentially anti-inflammatory properties of A. muciniphila.
CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, we show that supplementation with A. muciniphila prevented the age-related decline in thickness of the colonic mucus layer and attenuated inflammation and immune-related processes at old age. This study implies that A. muciniphila supplementation can contribute to a promotion of healthy aging.