Microbiota at the crossroads of autoimmunity

Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Sep;15(9):859-69. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.07.012. Epub 2016 Jul 6.


Autoimmune diseases have a multifactorial etiology including genetic and environmental factors. Recently, there has been increased appreciation of the critical involvement of the microbiota in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity, although in many cases, the cause and the consequence are not easy to distinguish. Here, we suggest that many of the known cues affecting the function of the immune system, such as genetics, gender, pregnancy and diet, which are consequently involved in autoimmunity, exert their effects by influencing, at least in part, the microbiota composition and activity. This, in turn, modulates the immune response in a way that increases the risk for autoimmunity in predisposed individuals. We further discuss current microbiota-based therapies.

Keywords: 16S rRNA; Autoimmune disease; Autoimmunity; Bacteria; Dysbiosis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Metagenomics; Microbiome; Microbiota; Psoriasis; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / microbiology
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Humans