The microbiome in autoimmune diseases

Clin Exp Immunol. 2019 Jan;195(1):74-85. doi: 10.1111/cei.13158.


The microbiome is represented by microorganisms which live in a symbiotic way with the mammalian. Microorganisms have the ability to influence different physiological aspects such as the immune system, metabolism and behaviour. In recent years, several studies have highlighted the role of the microbiome in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Notably, in systemic lupus erythematosus an alteration of the intestinal flora (lower Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio) has been described. Conversely, changes to the gut commensal and periodontal disease have been proposed as important factors in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, other autoimmune diseases (i.e. systemic sclerosis, Sjögren's syndrome and anti-phospholipid syndrome) also share modifications of the microbiome in the intestinal tract and oral flora. Herein, we describe the role of the microbiome in the maintenance homeostasis of the immune system and then the alterations of the microorganisms that occur in systemic autoimmune diseases. Finally, we will consider the use of probiotics and faecal transplantation as novel therapeutic targets.

Keywords: Sjögren’s syndrome; anti-phospholipid; autoimmune diseases; faecal transplantation; microbiome; probiotics; rheumatoid arthritis; syndrome systemic lupus erythematosus; systemic sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / microbiology*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology*
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*