The global rise in the incidence of autoimmune diseases has paralleled the widespread use of antibiotics. Recently, the gut microbiome has been shown to be key in the development and maturation of a normal immune system, and a range of microbial disturbances have been associated with the development and activity of several autoimmune diseases. Here, we aim to provide an overview of the mechanistic crosstalk between the human microbiome, the immune system, and antibiotics. The disease-associated microbial gut dysbiosis, the potential role of antibiotics in the development and treatment of autoimmune diseases, and the manipulation of the gut microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics is discussed using 2 key autoimmune diseases as an example: inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes. Although some data suggest that widespread use of antibiotics may facilitate autoimmunity through gut dysbiosis, there are also data to suggest antibiotics may hold the potential to improve disease activity. Currently, the effect of fecal microbiota transplantation on several autoimmune diseases is being studied in clinical trials, and several preclinical studies are revealing promising results with probiotic and prebiotic therapies.
Keywords: antibacterial agents; antibiotics; autoimmune diseases; dysbiosis; gastrointestinal microbiome; microbiota; prebiotics; probiotics.
© 2020 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.