The intestine and the intestinal immune system have evolved through a symbiotic homeostasis under which a highly diverse microbial flora is maintained in the gastrointestinal tract while pathogenic bacteria are recognized and eliminated. Disruption of the balance between the immune system and the gut microbiota results in the development of multiple pathologies in humans. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) have been associated with alterations in the composition of intestinal flora but whether these changes are causal or result of inflammation is still under dispute. Various chemical and genetic models of IBD have been developed and utilized to elucidate the complex relationship between intestinal epithelium, immune system and the gut microbiota. In this review we describe some of the most commonly used mouse models of colitis and Crohn's disease (CD) and summarize the current knowledge of how changes in microbiota composition may affect intestinal disease pathogenesis. The pursuit of gut-microbiota interactions will no doubt continue to provide invaluable insight into the complex biology of IBD.
Keywords: Crohn's disease; IBD; colitis; microbiota; mouse models.