Interactions between the host innate immune system and microbes in inflammatory bowel disease

Gastroenterology. 2011 May;140(6):1729-37. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2011.02.012.


The intestinal immune system defends against pathogens and entry of excessive intestinal microbes; simultaneously, a state of immune tolerance to resident intestinal microbes must be maintained. Perturbation of this balance is associated with intestinal inflammation in various mouse models and is thought to predispose humans to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The innate immune system senses microbes; dendritic cells, macrophages, and epithelial cells produce an initial, rapid response. The immune system continuously monitors resident microbiota and utilizes constitutive antimicrobial mechanisms to maintain immune homeostasis. associations between IBD and genes that regulate microbial recognition and innate immune pathways, such as nucleotide oligomerization domain 2 (Nod2), genes that control autophagy (eg, ATG16L1, IRGM), and genes in the interleukin-23-T helper cell 17 pathway indicate the important roles of host-microbe interactions in regulating intestinal immune homeostasis. There is increasing evidence that intestinal microbes influence host immune development, immune responses, and susceptibility to human diseases such as IBD, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. Conversely, host factors can affect microbes, which in turn modulate disease susceptibility. We review the cell populations and mechanisms that mediate interactions between host defense and tolerance and how the dysregulation of host-microbe interactions leads to intestinal inflammation and IBD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Bacteria / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Down-Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology*
  • Interleukin-23 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Nod2 Signaling Adaptor Protein / metabolism
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Interleukin-23
  • Nod2 Signaling Adaptor Protein
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition