Microbes, metabolites, and the gut-lung axis

Mucosal Immunol. 2019 Jul;12(4):843-850. doi: 10.1038/s41385-019-0160-6. Epub 2019 Apr 11.


The microbiota plays an essential role in the education, development, and function of the immune system, both locally and systemically. Emerging experimental and epidemiological evidence highlights a crucial cross-talk between the intestinal microbiota and the lungs, termed the 'gut-lung axis'. Changes in the constituents of the gut microbiome, through either diet, disease or medical interventions (such as antibiotics) is linked with altered immune responses and homeostasis in the airways. The importance of the gut-lung axis has become more evident following the identification of several gut microbe-derived components and metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), as key mediators for setting the tone of the immune system. Recent studies have supported a role for SCFAs in influencing hematopoietic precursors in the bone marrow-a major site of innate and adaptive immune cell development. Here, we review the current understanding of host-microbe cross-talk along the gut-lung axis. We highlight the importance of SCFAs in shaping and promoting bone marrow hematopoiesis to resolve airway inflammation and to support a healthy homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow
  • Dysbiosis
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Microbiota*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile