Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions

Microorganisms. 2020 Oct 15;8(10):1587. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms8101587.


Dynamic interactions between gut microbiota and a host's innate and adaptive immune systems play key roles in maintaining intestinal homeostasis and inhibiting inflammation. The gut microbiota metabolizes proteins and complex carbohydrates, synthesize vitamins, and produce an enormous number of metabolic products that can mediate cross-talk between gut epithelial and immune cells. As a defense mechanism, gut epithelial cells produce a mucosal barrier to segregate microbiota from host immune cells and reduce intestinal permeability. An impaired interaction between gut microbiota and the mucosal immune system can lead to an increased abundance of potentially pathogenic gram-negative bacteria and their associated metabolic changes, disrupting the epithelial barrier and increasing susceptibility to infections. Gut dysbiosis, or negative alterations in gut microbial composition, can also dysregulate immune responses, causing inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance. Over time, chronic dysbiosis and the translocation of bacteria and their metabolic products across the mucosal barrier may increase prevalence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease, and a variety of cancers. In this paper, we highlight the pivotal role gut microbiota and their metabolites (short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)) play in mucosal immunity.

Keywords: gut dysbiosis; gut microbiota; gut microbiota metabolites; immune system; short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

Publication types

  • Review