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Background: Meat protein in the diet has been shown to be beneficial for the growth of Lactobacillus in the caecum of growing rats; however, it is unknown whether gut microbiota in middle-aged animals have the same responses to meat protein diets. This study compared the composition of the gut microbiota between young and middle-aged rats after being fed 17.7% chicken protein diet for 14 days. Methods: Feces were collected on day 0 and day 14 from young rats (4 weeks old) and middle-aged rats (64 weeks old) fed with 17.7% chicken protein diets. The composition of the gut bacteria was analyzed by sequencing the V4-V5 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene. Results: The results showed that the composition of the gut microbiota was significantly different between young and middle-aged rats on both day 0 and day 14. The percentage of Firmicutes decreased for middle-aged rats (72.1% versus 58.1% for day 0 and day 14, respectively) but increased for young rats (41.5 versus 57.7% for day 0 and day 14, respectively). The percentage of Bacteroidetes increased to 31.2% (20.5% on day 0) for middle-aged rats and decreased to 29.6% (41.3% on day 0) for young rats. The relative abundance of the beneficial genus Lactobacillus increased in response to the intake of chicken protein in the young group, while it had the opposite effect in the middle-aged group. Conclusion: The results of our study demonstrated that 17.7% chicken protein diet promoted the beneficial genus Lactobacillus in young rats, but the opposite effect were found in the middle-aged group. To evaluate the linkage between diet and host health, age effect should be considered in the future studies.
Zhu, Y., Li, H., Xu, X., Li, C., & Zhou, G. (2016). The gut microbiota in young and middle-aged rats showed different responses to chicken protein in their diet. BMC Microbiology, 16(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-016-0895-0