Commensal bacteria are necessary for the development and maintenance of a healthy immune system. Harnessing the ability of microbiota to affect host immunity is considered an important therapeutic strategy for many mucosal and nonmucosal immune-related conditions, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), celiac disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and microbial infections. In addition to well-established immunostimulatory effects of the microbiota, the presence of individual mutualistic commensal bacteria with immunomodulatory effects has been described. These organisms are permanent members of the commensal microbiota and affect host immune homeostasis in specific ways. Identification of individual examples of such immunomodulatory commensals and understanding their mechanisms of interaction with the host will be invaluable in designing therapeutic strategies to reverse intestinal dysbiosis and recover immunological homeostasis.
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