Centenarians have a diverse gut virome with the potential to modulate metabolism and promote healthy lifespan

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Distinct gut microbiome ecology may be implicated in the prevention of aging-related diseases as it influences systemic immune function and resistance to infections. Yet, the viral component of the microbiome throughout different stages in life remains unexplored. Here we present a characterization of the centenarian gut virome using previously published metagenomes from 195 individuals from Japan and Sardinia. Compared with gut viromes of younger adults (>18 yr) and older individuals (>60 yr), centenarians had a more diverse virome including previously undescribed viral genera, such as viruses associated with Clostridia. A population shift towards higher lytic activity was also observed. Finally, we investigated phage-encoded auxiliary functions that influence bacterial physiology, which revealed an enrichment of genes supporting key steps in sulfate metabolic pathways. Phage and bacterial members of the centenarian microbiome displayed an increased potential for converting methionine to homocysteine, sulfate to sulfide and taurine to sulfide. A greater metabolic output of microbial hydrogen sulfide in centenarians may in turn support mucosal integrity and resistance to pathobionts.

Centenarians have a diverse population of gut bacteriophages, a subset of which encode sulfate metabolism genes and may promote healthy aging.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Microbiology
Pages (from-to)1064-1078
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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