Do symbiotic bacteria subvert host immunity?

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 May;7(5):367-74. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2114.


The mammalian intestine is home to dense and complex indigenous bacterial communities. Most of these bacteria establish beneficial symbiotic relationships with their hosts, making important contributions to host metabolism and digestive efficiency. The vast numbers of intestinal bacteria and their proximity to host tissues raise the question of how symbiotic host-bacterial relationships are established without eliciting potentially harmful immune responses. In light of the varied ways in which pathogenic bacteria manipulate host immunity, this Opinion article explores the role of immune suppression, subversion and evasion in the establishment of symbiotic host-bacterial associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / immunology*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Symbiosis*