Microbial translocation across the GI tract

Annu Rev Immunol. 2012:30:149-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-020711-075001. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


The lumen of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to an enormous quantity of different bacterial species, our microbiota, that thrive in an often symbiotic relationship with the host. Given that the healthy host must regulate contact between the microbiota and its immune system to avoid overwhelming systemic immune activation, humans have evolved several mechanisms to attenuate systemic microbial translocation (MT) and its consequences. However, several diseases are associated with the failure of one or more of these mechanisms, with consequent immune activation and deleterious effects on health. Here, we discuss the mechanisms underlying MT, diseases associated with MT, and therapeutic interventions that aim to decrease it.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Digestive System Diseases / immunology
  • Digestive System Diseases / microbiology
  • Digestive System Diseases / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Metagenome / drug effects
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Immunologic Factors