The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 354–361 | Cite as

Reduced intestinal motility, mucosal barrier function, and inflammation in aged monkeys

  • E. L. Mitchell
  • A. T. Davis
  • K. Brass
  • M. Dendinger
  • R. Barner
  • R. Gharaibeh
  • A. A. Fodor
  • Kylie Kavanagh



We aimed to examine the general health and intestinal physiology of young and old non-human primates with comparable life histories and dietary environments.


Vervet monkeys (Chlorcebus aethiops sabaeus) in stable and comparable social and nutritional environments were selected for evaluation. Health phenotype, circulating cytokines and biomarkers of microbial translocation (MT) were measured (n=26-44). Subsets of monkeys additionally had their intestinal motility, intestinal permeability, and fecal microbiomes characterized. These outcomes document age-related intestinal changes present in the absence of nutritional stressors, which are all known to affect gastrointestinal motility, microbiome, and MT.


We found that old monkeys have greater systemic inflammation and poor intestinal barrier function as compared to young monkeys. Old monkeys have dramatically reduced intestinal motility, and all changes in motility and MT are present without large differences in fecal microbiomes.


We conclude that deteriorating intestinal function is a feature of normal aging and could represent the source of inflammatory burden yet to be explained by disease or diet in normal aging human primate populations. Intestinal changes were seen independent of dietary influences and aging within a consistent environment appears to avoid major microbiome shifts. Our data suggests interventions to promote intestinal motility and mucosal barrier function have the potential to support better health with aging.

Key words

Intestinal microbial translocation microbiome inflammation aging monkey motility 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. L. Mitchell
    • 1
  • A. T. Davis
    • 2
  • K. Brass
    • 2
  • M. Dendinger
    • 2
  • R. Barner
    • 4
  • R. Gharaibeh
    • 3
    • 4
  • A. A. Fodor
    • 3
  • Kylie Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Animal Resources ProgramWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, Section on Comparative MedicineWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Bioinformatics and GenomicsUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  4. 4.Bioinformatics Services Division, Department of Bioinformatics and GenomicsUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteKannapolisUSA

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