Gut Microbiome and Metabolites in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Link, Mechanisms and Intervention

Front Immunol. 2021 Jul 15;12:686501. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.686501. eCollection 2021.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often considered the prototype of autoimmune diseases, is characterized by over-activation of the autoimmune system with abnormal functions of innate and adaptive immune cells and the production of a large number of autoantibodies against nuclear components. Given the highly complex and heterogeneous nature of SLE, the pathogenesis of this disease remains incompletely understood and is presumed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. Currently, disturbance of the gut microbiota has emerged as a novel player involved in the pathogenesis of SLE. With in-depth research, the understanding of the intestinal bacteria-host interaction in SLE is much more comprehensive. Recent years have also seen an increase in metabolomics studies in SLE with the attempt to identify potential biomarkers for diagnosis or disease activity monitoring. An intricate relationship between gut microbiome changes and metabolic alterations could help explain the mechanisms by which gut bacteria play roles in the pathogenesis of SLE. Here, we review the role of microbiota dysbiosis in the aetiology of SLE and how intestinal microbiota interact with the host metabolism axis. A proposed treatment strategy for SLE based on gut microbiome (GM) regulation is also discussed in this review. Increasing our understanding of gut microbiota and their function in lupus will provide us with novel opportunities to develop effective and precise diagnostic strategies and to explore potential microbiota-based treatments for patients with lupus.

Keywords: SLE pathogenesis; SLE therapy; Systemic lupus erythematosus; gut microbiota dysbiosis; metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / etiology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / metabolism
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / microbiology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy