The Multibiome: The Intestinal Ecosystem's Influence on Immune Homeostasis, Health, and Disease

EBioMedicine. 2016 Nov;13:46-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.007. Epub 2016 Oct 6.


Mammalian evolution has occurred in the presence of mutualistic, commensal, and pathogenic micro- and macro-organisms for millennia. The presence of these organisms during mammalian evolution has allowed for intimate crosstalk between these colonizing species and the host immune system. In this review, we introduce the concept of the 'multibiome' to holistically refer to the biodiverse collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and multicellular helminthic worms colonizing the mammalian intestine. Furthermore, we discuss new insights into multibiome-host interactions in the context of host-protective immunity and immune-mediated diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. Finally, we provide reasons to account for the multibiome in experimental design, analysis and in therapeutic applications.

Keywords: Autoimmune disease; Helminth immunotherapy; Inflammatory bowel disease; Microbiome; Mucosal immunology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Ecosystem
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Homeostasis*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunomodulation
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestines / physiology*