Factors affecting the composition of the gut microbiota, and its modulation

PeerJ. 2019 Aug 16;7:e7502. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7502. eCollection 2019.


Gut microbiota have important functions in the body, and imbalances in the composition and diversity of those microbiota can cause several diseases. The host fosters favorable microbiota by releasing specific factors, such as microRNAs, and nonspecific factors, such as antimicrobial peptides, mucus and immunoglobulin A that encourage the growth of specific types of bacteria and inhibit the growth of others. Diet, antibiotics, and age can change gut microbiota, and many studies have shown the relationship between disorders of the microbiota and several diseases and reported some ways to modulate that balance. In this review, we highlight how the host shapes its gut microbiota via specific and nonspecific factors, how environmental and nutritional factors affect it, and how to modulate it using prebiotics, probiotics, and fecal microbiota transplantation.

Keywords: AMPs; Antibiotics; Diet; FMT; Gut microbiota; Prebiotics; Probiotics; miRNA.

Grants and funding

The study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central universities (2572017DA07), and the Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province, China (LC2016005). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.