Smoking and the intestinal microbiome

Arch Microbiol. 2018 Jul;200(5):677-684. doi: 10.1007/s00203-018-1506-2. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Studies are emerging alluding to the role of intestinal microbiome in the pathogenesis of diseases. Intestinal microbiome is susceptible to the influence of environmental factors such as smoking, and recent studies have indicated microbiome alterations in smokers. The aim of the study was to review the literature regarding the impact of smoking on the intestinal microbiome. A literature review of publications in PUBMED was performed using combinations of the terms "Intestinal/Gut/Gastrointestinal/Colonic" with "Microbiome/Microbiota/Microbial/Flora" and "Smoking/Smoker/Tobacco". We selected studies that were published between the years 2000 and 2016 as our inclusion criteria. Observational and interventional studies suggest that the composition of intestinal microbiome is altered due to smoking. In these studies, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes phyla were increased, as well as the genera of Clostridium, Bacteroides and Prevotella. On the other hand, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes phyla as well as the genera Bifidobacteria and Lactococcus were decreased. Smoking also decreased the diversity of the intestinal microbiome. Mechanisms that have been suggested to explain the effect of smoking on intestinal microbiome include: oxidative stress enhancement, alterations of intestinal tight junctions and intestinal mucin composition, and changes in acid-base balance. Interestingly, some smoking-induced alterations of intestinal microbiome resemble those demonstrated in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Further studies should be performed to investigate this connection. Smoking has an effect on intestinal microbiome and is suggested to alter its composition. This interaction may contribute to the development of intestinal and systemic diseases, particularly inflammatory bowel diseases.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; Dysbiosis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Intestinal microbiome; Smoking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Smokers
  • Smoking / adverse effects*