The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are among the most closely studied chronic inflammatory disorders that involve environmental, host genetic, and commensal microbial factors. This combination of features has made IBD both an appropriate and a high-priority platform for translatable research in host-microbiome interactions. Decades of epidemiology have identified environmental risk factors, although most mechanisms of action remain unexplained. The genetic architecture of IBD has been carefully dissected in multiple large populations, identifying several responsible host epithelial and immune pathways but without yet a complete systems-level explanation. Most recently, the commensal gut microbiota have been found to be both ecologically and functionally perturbed during the disease, but with as-yet-unexplained heterogeneity among IBD subtypes and individual patients. IBD thus represents perhaps the most comprehensive current model for understanding the human microbiome's role in complex inflammatory disease. Here, we review the influences of the microbiota on IBD and its potential for translational medicine.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.