PerspectiveIMMUNOTHERAPY

Immunostimulatory gut bacteria

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Science  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6469, pp. 1077-1078
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7595

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Summary

Studies of the nature of the humanmicrobial “superorganism” indicate that many diseases are linked to widespread alterations of this hybrid ecosystem. For example, inflammatory disorders and malignancies have been associated with shifts in the composition of the intestinal microbiota, causing a state of dysbiosis that reflects the pathological process and contributes to disease pathogenesis (1, 2). On page 1143 of this issue, Stein-Thoeringer et al. (3) find that shifts in several enterococcal bacteria species, in particular an increase in Enterococcus faecium, favor severe inflammatory and immune-mediated damage of the intestine in response to allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT), which is used to treat hematological malignancies. This surge in E. faecium in the gut correlates with increased graft-versus-host disease (GVHD, in which immune cells from the donor attack the recipient) and reduced survival. These findings suggest that some enterococcal species may have immunostimulatory and pro-inflammatory effects.

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