From Microbiome to Infectome in Autoimmunity

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2017 Jul;29(4):369-373. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000394.


Purpose of review: The current review discusses the pros and cons of the microbiome studies conducted in search of the association between microbiota and autoimmunity.

Recent findings: We focus on the role of infectome and autoinfectome as a bridge to link the findings of microbiome studies with those emerging from investigations of the role of specific viruses and antiviral responses as triggers of autoimmunity (through various mechanisms such as molecular mimicry). The 'usual suspects', such as herpetoviruses and Escherichia coli, are thoroughly discussed in light of the data emerged by the microbiome studies, using as examples specific autoimmune rheumatic diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Summary: We conclude that the studies of the oral cavity, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract microbiome are informative but can only be useful if further explored from the infectome perspective. This means that the plethora of bacteria associated with autoimmune diseases from microbiome studies can be and must be tested experimentally. If certain bacteria are associated directly or indirectly with autoimmune diseases, specific immunological mechanisms must be identified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / virology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / microbiology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / virology
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / virology
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / immunology
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / virology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*