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Posted: October 5th, 2023

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Pathophysiology

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Pathophysiology: Investigate the complex interactions between the gut microbiota and the host immune system in the development and progression of IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Explore the dysbiosis of the gut microbiome and its impact on intestinal inflammation, mucosal barrier function, and immune responses. Consider potential therapeutic interventions targeting the microbiota to manage IBD.

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Pathophysiology

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract that includes Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The exact etiology of IBD is unknown, but it is widely accepted that it results from a complex interplay between genetic, environmental, and microbial factors. Among these, the gut microbiota has emerged as a key player in the development and progression of IBD, as it modulates the host immune system and influences the integrity of the intestinal mucosal barrier.

The gut microbiota is the diverse community of microorganisms that colonizes the human gastrointestinal tract, comprising bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. The gut microbiota performs various beneficial functions for the host, such as digesting dietary components, producing vitamins and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), preventing pathogen colonization, and regulating immune homeostasis. However, when the balance of the gut microbiota is disturbed by factors such as diet, antibiotics, infections, or stress, a state of dysbiosis occurs, characterized by reduced diversity, altered composition, and increased instability of the microbial community. Dysbiosis has been associated with several diseases, including IBD.

Several studies have shown that patients with IBD have a distinct gut microbiota compared to healthy individuals. For instance, IBD patients have lower abundance and diversity of SCFA-producing bacteria, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bifidobacterium spp., which have anti-inflammatory properties and enhance mucosal barrier function. Conversely, IBD patients have higher abundance of pro-inflammatory bacteria, such as adherent/invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S)-producing bacteria, which can invade epithelial cells, induce cytokine production, and impair epithelial integrity. Moreover, IBD patients have reduced stability and resilience of their gut microbiota, making them more susceptible to environmental perturbations and disease flares.

The mechanisms by which the gut microbiota influences the pathophysiology of IBD are not fully understood, but several hypotheses have been proposed. One hypothesis is that dysbiosis leads to a loss of tolerance to commensal bacteria and an aberrant immune response that causes chronic inflammation. Another hypothesis is that dysbiosis impairs the intestinal mucosal barrier and facilitates the translocation of bacteria and their products into the lamina propria and systemic circulation, triggering inflammation. A third hypothesis is that dysbiosis alters the metabolic profile of the gut microbiota and affects the production and utilization of metabolites that modulate inflammation and epithelial function.

Given the crucial role of the gut microbiota in IBD pathophysiology, targeting the microbiota has been proposed as a potential therapeutic strategy to manage IBD. Several approaches have been explored or are under investigation, such as probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), antibiotics, dietary interventions, and phage therapy. However, the efficacy and safety of these interventions are still uncertain and require further validation in large-scale clinical trials. Moreover, personalized approaches that take into account the individual variability of the gut microbiota and its interactions with host genetics and environmental factors are needed to optimize treatment outcomes.


– Interplay of host genetics and gut microbiota underlying the onset and clinical presentation of inflammatory bowel disease
– Frontiers | The Gut Microbiota in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
– Gut microbiota: Definition, importance, and medical uses

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