The microbiota: an exercise immunology perspective

Exerc Immunol Rev. 2015;21:70-9.


The gut microbiota consists of a cluster of microorganisms that produces several signaling molecules of a hormonal nature which are released into the blood stream and act at distal sites. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that microbiota may be modulated by several environmental conditions, including different exercise stimulus, as well some pathologies. Enriched bacterial diversity has also been associated with improved health status and alterations in immune system, making multiple connections between host and microbiota. Experimental evidence has shown that reduced levels and variations in the bacterial community are associated with health impairments, while increased microbiota diversity improves metabolic profile and immunological responses. So far, very few controlled studies have focused on the interactions between acute or chronic exercise and the gut microbiota. However, some preliminary experimental data obtained from animal studies or probiotics studies show some interesting results at the immune level, indicating that the microbiota also acts like an endocrine organ and is sensitive to the homeostatic and physiological changes associated with exercise. Thus, our review intends to shed some light on the interaction between gut microbiota, exercise and immunomodulation.

Keywords: exercise; gut; immunity; microbiota..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Translocation
  • Diet
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / biosynthesis
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Fermentation
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / microbiology
  • Immune System / growth & development
  • Immunomodulation
  • Intestines / growth & development
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Microbiota / physiology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / biosynthesis
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Physical Exertion / immunology*
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Stress, Physiological / immunology
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Prebiotics