The microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease: current and therapeutic insights

J Inflamm Res. 2017 Jun 10:10:63-73. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S116088. eCollection 2017.


Inflammatory bowel disease is a heterogeneous group of chronic disorders that result from the interaction of the intestinal immune system with the gut microbiome. Until recently, most investigative efforts and therapeutic breakthroughs were centered on understanding and manipulating the altered mucosal immune response that characterizes these diseases. However, more recent studies have highlighted the important role of environmental factors, and in particular the microbiota, in disease onset and disease exacerbation. Advances in genomic sequencing technology and bioinformatics have facilitated an explosion of investigative inquiries into the composition and function of the intestinal microbiome in health and disease and have advanced our understanding of the interplay between the gut microbiota and the host immune system. The gut microbiome is dynamic and changes with age and in response to diet, antibiotics and other environmental factors, and these alterations in the microbiome contribute to disease onset and exacerbation. Strategies to manipulate the microbiome through diet, probiotics, antibiotics or fecal microbiota transplantation may potentially be used therapeutically to influence modulate disease activity. This review will characterize the factors involved in the development of the intestinal microbiome and will describe the typical alterations in the microbiota that are characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, this manuscript will summarize the early but promising literature on the role of the gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease with implications for utilizing this data for diagnostic or therapeutic application in the clinical management of patients with these diseases.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; enteral nutrition; fecal microbiota transplantation; microbiome; specific carbohydrate diet; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review