BACKGROUND: The human gut is an ecosystem consisting of a great number of commensal bacteria living in symbiosis with the host. Several data confirm that gut microbiota is engaged in a dynamic interaction with the intestinal innate and adaptive immune system, affecting different aspects of its development and function.
AIM: To review the immunological functions of gut microbiota and improve knowledge of its therapeutic implications for several intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases associated to dysregulation of the immune system.
METHODS: Significant articles were identified by literature search and selected based on content, including atopic diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases and treatment of these conditions with probiotics.
RESULTS: Accumulating evidence indicates that intestinal microflora has protective, metabolic, trophic and immunological functions and is able to establish a “cross-talk” with the immune component of mucosal immunity, comprising cellular and soluble elements. When one or more steps in this fine interaction fail, autoimmune or auto-inflammatory diseases may occur. Furthermore, it results from the data that probiotics, used for the treatment of the diseases caused by the dysregulation of the immune system, can have a beneficial effect by different mechanisms.
CONCLUSIONS: Gut microbiota interacts with both innate and adaptive immune system, playing a pivotal role in maintenance and disruption of gut immune quiescence. A cross talk between the mucosal immune system and endogenous microflora favours a mutual growth, survival and inflammatory control of the intestinal ecosystem. Based on these evidences, probiotics can be used as an ecological therapy in the treatment of immune diseases.
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To cite this article
F. Purchiaroni, A. Tortora, M. Gabrielli, F. Bertucci, G. Gigante, G. Ianiro, V. Ojetti, E. Scarpellini, A. Gasbarrini
The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Vol. 17 - N. 3