The commensal microbiota that inhabit different parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract have been shaped by coevolution with the host species. The symbiotic relationship of the hundreds of microbial species with the host requires a tuned response that prevents host damage, e.g., inflammation, while tolerating the presence of the potentially beneficial microbes. Recent studies have begun to shed light on immunological processes that participate in maintenance of homeostasis with the microbiota and on how disturbance of host immunity or the microbial ecosystem can result in disease-provoking dysbiosis. Our growing appreciation of this delicate host-microbe relationship promises to influence our understanding of inflammatory diseases and infection by microbial pathogens and to provide new therapeutic opportunities.
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