Inside of the stomach illustration

Restoring microorganisms in the gut to a youthful age was linked to improved stroke recovery in old mice, according to a new study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2016.

Noting that different bacteria present in the gut change with age, researchers from the University of Connecticut in Mansfield, Connecticut, used fecal transplants to deliver a “young” set of bacteria to mice that were 18 to 20 months old as well as to mice just 3 or 4 months old, while another group of mice received an “aged” set of bacteria in each of those two age groups. The mice were first given an antibiotic to suppress their own microbial makeups and allow the new sets of gut bacteria to flourish.

Follow-up behavioral and neurological tests showed that older mice with “young” sets of bacteria recovered from the induced stroke better than their peers with “aged” bacteria. Meanwhile, death rates after the stroke were particularly high — exceeding 50 percent — in young mice with “aged” bacterial makeups, researchers said.