Immunoregulation by the gut microbiota

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Nov;69(21):3635-50. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-0993-6. Epub 2012 Apr 22.


The human intestinal mucosa is constantly exposed to commensal microbiota. Since the gut microbiota is beneficial to the host, hosts have evolved intestine-specific immune systems to co-exist with the microbiota. On the other hand, the intestinal microbiota actively regulates the host's immune system, and recent studies have revealed that specific commensal bacterial species induce the accumulation of specific immune cell populations. For instance, segmented filamentous bacteria and Clostridium species belonging to clusters XIVa and IV induce the accumulation of Th17 cells in the small intestine and Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells in the large intestine, respectively. The immune cells induced by the gut microbiota likely contribute to intestinal homeostasis and influence systemic immunity in the host.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / immunology*
  • Clostridium / genetics
  • Clostridium / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metagenome*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • Th17 Cells / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / metabolism


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Interleukin-17