Indole, which is produced in the intestines of some microbes, helps the body to remain healthy to a ripe old age.

Coliform bacteria, producing indole, help the body stay healthy in old age. (Photo: Fernan Federici /

Escherichia coli. (Photo: Yasser / ”

From bacteria that live in our gut, we get a lot of benefits – they not only help to digest food, but maintain a healthy metabolism, in addition, intestinal microbes are essential to proper setup of immunity.

Problems with the microflora can result in different troubles, from diabetes to autoimmune diseases. But all this, if I may say so, an indirect benefit. But researchers from Emory University wrote in his article in PNASthat some of the gastrointestinal bacteria directly give us the substance that literally provides a healthy old age, although increases the life time.

We are talking about the indole . It is formed by the cleavage of the amino acid tryptophan, in high concentrations it smells very unpleasant (and its derivative skatole, gives feces a characteristic repulsive smell), in small concentrations, it smells of Jasmine and is used in the perfume industry.

Some time ago, the staff of the laboratory of Daniel Kalman (Kalman Daniel) drew attention to the fact that indole and related molecules that appear in the intestine as a result of activity of bacteria make mice and roundworms (or nematodes) are more resistant to infections and other stress factors.

Then the researchers fed roundworms Escherichia coli produces indole, to assess how these worms will grow. When earth’s path nematodes coming to an end, the worm becomes inactive, moves less, poorly fed and is more sensitive to stressful stimuli.

It turned out that “indole” bacteria weaken the signs of aging: old nematodes were actively moving, was quite resistant to overheating and well swallowed everything that he could swallow. Moreover, these worms even longer multiplied when nematodes cease sexual activity on the fifth day of life, with E. coli, providing them with the indole, they continued to multiply until the twelfth day.

Similar results happened with the fruit flies, and mice. A very old mouse, who turned 28 months, remained mobile and active, and they maintained a healthy weight, if in their intestines lived Escherichia coli produces indole. Moreover, the indole were a good influence on young animals, which it can, for example, is better tolerated high doses of radiation.

However, as we said in the beginning, despite the curative effect, the total lifetime of indole did not increase: the animals died in their usual average time, despite mobility and a good appetite. As shown by genetic analysis “indole” worms, at the molecular level, the indole stimulates the activity of genes, but not those that can increase life expectancy.

How exactly does indole, remains to be seen, but obviously its beneficial effect is associated with the intestines – maybe here it suppresses inflammation and does not penetrate into the body of some unwanted substances. It is not excluded that on the basis of indole will be able to develop drugs that are more effective than the indole, which would enable older people to forget, at least some age-related diseases.