One explanation for the increased incidence of allergies, asthma, and even some autoimmune diseases has been the hygiene hypothesis. However, recent studies also highlight an important role for diet and bacterial metabolites in controlling various immune pathways, including gut and immune homeostasis, regulatory T cell biology, and inflammation. Dietary-related metabolites engage "metabolite-sensing" G-protein-coupled receptors, such as GPR43, GPR41, GPR109A, GPR120, and GPR35. These receptors are expressed on immune cells and some gut epithelial cells and generally mediate a direct anti-inflammatory effect. Insufficient intake of "healthy foodstuffs" adversely affects the production of bacterial metabolites. These metabolites and those derived directly from food drive beneficial downstream effects on immune pathways. We propose that insufficient exposure to dietary and bacterial metabolites might underlie the development of inflammatory disorders in Western countries. This review highlights what is currently known about diet, metabolites, and their associated immune pathways in relation to the development of inflammatory disease.
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