Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
The incidence of intestinal nutrient malabsorption increases with age. Therefore, an important question is whether there are age-related changes in intestinal nutrient absorption which may contribute to a decline in absorptive capacity. Sugar and amino acid transport per mg intestine generally decreases with age. The proximate mechanism underlying this age-related decrease in transport activity is a decrease in number of transporters per mg. This reduction in transporter number can be caused by age-related changes in cell proliferation rates which, in turn, can alter the ratio of absorptive to nonabsorptive cells. The age-related change in proliferation rates typically increases intestinal mass. There seems to be no age-related changes in the steady state levels of transporter mRNA. Aging also modestly impairs the ability of intestinal nutrient transport systems to adapt to changes in dietary conditions. Caloric restriction is the only procedure known to consistently increase the lifespan of mammals. Chronic caloric restriction markedly enhances intestinal nutrient transport per mg without affecting intestinal mass. Since body weight decreases with caloric restriction, there is a dramatic increase in intestinal absorptive capacity normalized to body weight. This suggests that an increase in intestinal nutrient absorption may be a critical adaptation to caloric restriction. There is a need to perform in vivo transport studies during senescence, to distinguish between acute and chronic effects of caloric restriction, and to identify hormones that may mediate aging and caloric restriction effects on intestinal nutrient transport.