Studying the role of the human microbiome as it relates to human health status has revolutionized our view of microbial community contributions to a large number of diseases, particularly chronic inflammatory disorders. The lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract houses trillions of microbial cells representing a large diversity of species in relatively well-defined phylogenetic ratios that are associated with maintenance of key aspects of host physiology and immune homeostasis. It is not surprising, therefore, that many GI inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are associated with substantial changes in the composition of these microbial assemblages, either as a cause or consequence of host inflammatory response. Here we review current knowledge in the emerging field of human microbiome research as it relates to IBD, specifically focusing on Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). We discuss bacteriotherapeutic efforts to restore GI microbial assemblage integrity via probiotic supplementation of IBD patients, and speculate on future directions for the field.
Copyright © 2011 Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.