Reference Number: 52
The human gut harbors diverse microbes that play a fundamental role in the well-being of their host. The constituents of the microbiota—bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotes—have been shown to interact with one another and with the host immune system in ways that influence the development of disease. We review these interactions and suggest that a holistic approach to studying the microbiota that goes beyond characterization of community composition and encompasses dynamic interactions between all components of the microbiota and host tissue over time will be crucial for building predictive models for diagnosis and treatment of diseases linked to imbalances in our microbiota.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS STUDY
The microbiota plays a major role in health and disease in humans and it is sometimes referred to as our “forgotten organ” (O’Hara and Shanahan, 2006). The current paper gives an overview of the current understanding of the microbiota and its development in health and disease. The paper also discusses how imbalances in the composition of the microbiota relates to diseases such as obesity or Crohn’s disease. For example, obesity is a physiological state that has emerged as a major health concern in populations that have adopted a Western diet and is closely tied to the microbiota. Recent studies and shown a positive link between obesity and the number of microbial species present within your gut (i.e microbial diversity). Obese individuals are found to have significantly lower microbial diversity compared to lean individuals. In terms of the development of Crohn’s which can only partly be described by genetics, the remaining is down to the gut micro biome. Studies of twins discordant for Crohn’s suggest that an environmental aspect is required for the development of the disease and another influential study by Cadwell et al. sheds light on how the microbiota might be interacting in the development of Crohn’s disease. It is therefore important to nourish and look after your gut microbes and not be treated as a ‘vital organ’ which holds the key to good health and wellbeing.