The Gut's Clostridium Cocktail

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Science  21 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6015, pp. 289-290
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201291

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Specific components of the microbiota—the microorganisms that normally colonize the body—can affect disease progression in mouse models of arthritis, central nervous system inflammation, diabetes, intestinal inflammation, and obesity (1). On page 337 of this issue, Atarashi et al. (2) demonstrate that indigenous species of Clostridium bacteria, a large component of the mammalian microbiota, promote anti-inflammatory immune responses by expanding and activating regulatory T (Treg) cells. The finding has important implications for understanding how gut-resident bacteria affect both intestinal and systemic immune responses.