Review

Host-Gut Microbiota Metabolic Interactions

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Science  08 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6086, pp. 1262-1267
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223813

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  1. Fig. 1

    The gut microbiota in development and disease. The influence of the gut microbiota on human health is continuous from birth to old age. The maternal microbiota may influence both the intrauterine environment and the postnatal health of the fetus. At birth, about 100 microbial species populate the colon. Early environmental factors (e.g., method of delivery), nutritional factors (e.g., breast or bottle-feeding), and epigenetic factors have been implicated in the development of a healthy gut and its microbial symbionts. Changes in gut microbial composition in early life can influence risk for developing disease later in life. During suckling, the microbial community develops rapidly; shifts in microbial diversity occur throughout childhood and adult life; and in old age, there is a decrease in the Bacteroidetes and an increase in Firmicutes species. The gut microbiota is important for maintaining normal physiology and energy production throughout life. Body temperature regulation, reproduction, and tissue growth are energy-dependent processes that may rely in part on gut microbial energy production. Extrinsic environmental factors (such as antibiotic use, diet, stress, disease, and injury) and the mammalian host genome continually influence the diversity and function of the gut microbiota with implications for human health. Disruption of the gut microbiota (dysbiosis) can lead to a variety of different diseases, including (A) inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and irritable bowel syndrome; (B) gastric ulcers, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and obesity and metabolic syndromes; (C) asthma, atopy, and hypertension; and (D) mood and behavior through hormone signaling (e.g., GLP-1). The gut microbiota is also important for drug metabolism and preventing the establishment of pathogenic microbes.