Microbiota restoration: natural and supplemented recovery of human microbial communities

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Jan;9(1):27-38. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2473. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


In a healthy host, a balance exists between members of the microbiota, such that potential pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms can be found in apparent harmony. During infection, this balance can become disturbed, leading to often dramatic changes in the composition of the microbiota. For most bacterial infections, nonspecific antibiotics are used, killing the non-pathogenic members of the microbiota as well as the pathogens and leading to a substantial delay in the restoration of a healthy microbiota. However, in some cases, infections can self-resolve without the intervention of antibiotics. In this Review, we explore the mechanisms underlying microbiota restoration following insult (antibiotic or otherwise) to the skin, oral cavity, and gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts, highlighting recovery by natural processes and after probiotic administration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Probiotics
  • Symbiosis*
  • Wounds and Injuries / microbiology