The Gut Microbiome in Health and in Disease

Andrew B. Shreiner; John Y. Kao; Vincent B. Young


Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2015;31(1):69-75. 

In This Article

The Role of the Microbiota in Specific Diseases and Conditions

The above sections have described some of the many ways that the microbiota can influence human physiology, and it is no surprise that there is great interest in studying microbiota changes associated with diseased states, often referred to as dysbiosis (Table 1). However, the relationship between dysbiosis and disease pathogenesis is uncertain in the majority of examples at this time. It is often not clear what microbiota changes associated with disease are meaningful, and distinguishing between cause and effect is inherently challenging. Although it is intriguing to speculate that dysbiosis may cause disease as we learn more about how the microbiota can influence the host, it is also noted that the diseased state can lead to changes to the microbiota through various mechanisms, including changes in eating habits and bowel function as well as through the addition of medications such as antibiotics. In this section, we highlight a few of the recent findings on the role of the microbiota in particular diseases or conditions, but we cannot touch on all of the emerging findings in a multitude of other diseases both inside and outside the gut, including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis,[25] colorectal cancer,[26] obesity,[27] and diabetes.[28]