Host-microbiota interactions in immune-mediated diseases

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2020 Sep;18(9):521-538. doi: 10.1038/s41579-020-0367-2. Epub 2020 May 26.


Host-microbiota interactions are fundamental for the development of the immune system. Drastic changes in modern environments and lifestyles have led to an imbalance of this evolutionarily ancient process, coinciding with a steep rise in immune-mediated diseases such as autoimmune, allergic and chronic inflammatory disorders. There is an urgent need to better understand these diseases in the context of mucosal and skin microbiota. This Review discusses the mechanisms of how the microbiota contributes to the predisposition, initiation and perpetuation of immune-mediated diseases in the context of a genetically prone host. It is timely owing to the wealth of new studies that recently contributed to this field, ranging from metagenomic studies in humans and mechanistic studies of host-microorganism interactions in gnotobiotic models and in vitro systems, to molecular mechanisms with broader implications across immune-mediated diseases. We focus on the general principles, such as breaches in immune tolerance and barriers, leading to the promotion of immune-mediated diseases by gut, oral and skin microbiota. Lastly, the therapeutic avenues that either target the microbiota, the barrier surfaces or the host immune system to restore tolerance and homeostasis will be explored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Host Microbial Interactions / genetics
  • Host Microbial Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Microbiota / physiology*