Forever Young John A. Lopes, Ph.D.

Everyone after the age of 25 to 30 years craves to live young forever and avoid the signs associated with getting old. Signs of advancing age have multi faceted symptoms. The skin gets wrinkled; movements get slower, eyesight needs help, it takes longer to recollect events, and names, muscles get weaker and more. Some of the aging signs are determined by our genetic constitution, while others may be associated with bacteria residing in the appendix, a small four-inch intestinal extension located at the junction of large and small intestine

Parkinson’s disease of muscle coordination and Alzheimer’s disease of memory loss are two of the most disturbing brain disorders of old age. Shaking, stiffness, difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination are major symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  Parkinson’s disease results from the loss of the dopamine-producing brain cells that control movement. Alpha-synuclein a protein accumulates in the brain cells. Researchers found that immune cells recognize and react to alpha-synuclein.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Viviane Labrie at the Van Andel Research Institute reported that bacteria residing in appendix are probably responsible for producing this toxic protein. There is evidence that the protein may be able to travel from the gut to the brain via the connecting vagal nerve. Parkinson’s disease is often associated with gastrointestinal symptoms and may take up to 20 years before the disease is manifested.

Current understanding is, the appendix is an immune tissue involved in the body’s defense against microbes and helps regulate bacteria in the intestine. Analyzing health reports of 1.7 million people for 52 years, the researchers found that people who'd had their appendix removed (an appendectomy) had a 19.3% to 25.4% lower chance of Parkinson’s disease.  The team also found that people who had an appendectomy prior to 30 years of age showed 3.6 years of delay in the onset of Parkinson’s’ disease.

Thus, aging is a multifaceted phenomenon besides our genetic makeup and external application of beauty aids and cosmetics. Aging can be increased due to an external output of proteins by the bacterial population of the gut.


1.National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

  1. Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
  2. Parkinson's Foundation

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