[Gut microbiota: Description, role and pathophysiologic implications]

Rev Med Interne. 2016 Jun;37(6):418-23. doi: 10.1016/j.revmed.2015.12.012. Epub 2015 Dec 31.
[Article in French]


The human gut contains 10(14) bacteria and many other micro-organisms such as Archaea, viruses and fungi. Studying the gut microbiota showed how this entity participates to gut physiology and beyond this to human health, as a real "hidden organ". In this review, we aimed to bring information about gut microbiota, its structure, its roles and its implication in human pathology. After bacterial colonization in infant, intestinal microbial composition is unique for each individual although more than 95% can be assigned to four major phyla. The use of culture independent methods and more recently the development of high throughput sequencing allowed to depict precisely gut microbiota structure and diversity as well as its alteration in diseases. Gut microbiota is implicated in the maturation of the host immune system and in many fundamental metabolic pathways including sugars and proteins fermentation and metabolism of bile acids and xenobiotics. Imbalance of gut microbial populations or dysbiosis has important functional consequences and is implicated in many digestive diseases (inflammatory bowel diseases, colorectal cancer, etc.) but also in obesity and autism. These observations have led to a surge of studies exploring therapeutics which aims to restore gut microbiota equilibrium such as probiotics or fecal microbiota transplantation. But recent research also investigates biological activity of microbial products which could lead to interesting therapeutics leads.

Keywords: Dysbiose; Dysbiosis; Gut microbiota; Immune system; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Maladies inflammatoires chroniques intestinales; Microbiote; Obesity; Obésité; Système immunitaire.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis / complications*
  • Dysbiosis / metabolism
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / microbiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / pathology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / microbiology