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What Is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem Across Age, Environment, Diet, and Diseases


What Is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem Across Age, Environment, Diet, and Diseases

Emanuele Rinninella et al. Microorganisms.


Each individual is provided with a unique gut microbiota profile that plays many specific functions in host nutrient metabolism, maintenance of structural integrity of the gut mucosal barrier, immunomodulation, and protection against pathogens. Gut microbiota are composed of different bacteria species taxonomically classified by genus, family, order, and phyla. Each human's gut microbiota are shaped in early life as their composition depends on infant transitions (birth gestational date, type of delivery, methods of milk feeding, weaning period) and external factors such as antibiotic use. These personal and healthy core native microbiota remain relatively stable in adulthood but differ between individuals due to enterotypes, body mass index (BMI) level, exercise frequency, lifestyle, and cultural and dietary habits. Accordingly, there is not a unique optimal gut microbiota composition since it is different for each individual. However, a healthy host⁻microorganism balance must be respected in order to optimally perform metabolic and immune functions and prevent disease development. This review will provide an overview of the studies that focus on gut microbiota balances in the same individual and between individuals and highlight the close mutualistic relationship between gut microbiota variations and diseases. Indeed, dysbiosis of gut microbiota is associated not only with intestinal disorders but also with numerous extra-intestinal diseases such as metabolic and neurological disorders. Understanding the cause or consequence of these gut microbiota balances in health and disease and how to maintain or restore a healthy gut microbiota composition should be useful in developing promising therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; age; autism spectrum disorders; celiac disease; colorectal cancer; diet; diversity; enterotypes; gut microbiota; health; hepatic encephalopathy; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; milk feeding; necrotizing enterocolitis; nutrition; obesity; personalized medicine; type 2 diabetes; weaning.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Examples of taxonomic gut microbiota composition. In the box are cited examples of bacteria belonging to Phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, representing 90% of gut microbiota.

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