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The Human Gut Microbiome and its Relationship to Disease


The Human Gut Microbiome and its Relationship to Disease

The term ‘microorganism’ or ‘bacteria’ includes a negative confrontation, as most of the people living in earth have a certain concept that microorganisms only can cause harmful diseases or several types of health issues. However, this is not true, as abundance numbers of microorganisms are present in earth, who play beneficial role for the maintaining human health. Based on the scientific term, they are mostly known as Microbiota (Bull and Plummer, 2014). Usually, human microbiota has commensal relationship with human body, as both get benefits from this connection. The places where human microbiota can reside are vagina, skin, oral cavity, and intestines.

Human Gut Microbiome- who are they?

The microbiota resides in the intestinal part of the human body are known as the gut microbiome. It can be stated that the gut microbiome comprises around 70% of the entire population of human microbiome. The population is dominated by the Firmicutes and Bacteroides phyla, along with some other phylum such as Actinobacteria, Fusobacteria, Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Verrumicrobiota (Ho et al. 2015). They are mainly classified under strict anaerobe group; however, some of them can often grow in aerobic condition. The colonisation of gut microbiota initiates at the time of birth.

What are the functions of Gut Microbiome?

Different functional variations are associated with the gut microbiota. For example, gut microbiome mainly helps in digestion of foods, along with the production of vitamin K and B. This is beneficial in cell metabolism as well as blood coagulation (Marchesi et al. 2016). Besides this, the microorganisms residing in intestine can help in combating harmful pathogenic attacks, through creation of improved immune system. Along with the development of local intestinal immunity, the microbiome also helps in systematic immune response. Apart from this, in order to maintain the balancing between intestinal system and brain, the gut microbiome creates a communication process by including hormonal, immunological, and neural signalling, pathways. Through this communication, our brain operates several gastrointestinal functions, such as mucin production, peristalsis, and so on (Durack and Lynch, 2018).

Roles played by Gut Microbiome in disease development-

Modifications in the balance and diversity of gut microbiota might cause physiological changes, which often cause issues in other body sections rather than the gastrointestinal system. For example, intestinal permeability is one of the common ways followed by the gut microbiota for affecting other body parts, in which the intestinal barriers become damaged due to pathogenic over-growth and stress promotion (Carding et al. 2015). Therefore, the gut microbiota gets opportunity of travelling in the intestinal permeability as well as in systematic circulation process, due to which an issue, known as ‘leaky gut’ syndrome occurs.

According to scientific research studies, it can be stated that dysregulation and imbalance in gut microbial system would create various issues, such as neurological, psychiatric diseases, cardiovascular issues, autoimmune problems, and so on.

Some of the diseases caused by the gut microbial imbalance are as follows-

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Atopic Eczema
  • Atopic Rhinitis
  • Some psychiatric issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Hepatocellualar carcinoma (Nguyen et al. 2015)

All of the above diseases are related with the imbalances of gut microbiota as well as dysregulation in the immune system. For example, the Inflammatroy Bowel Disease or IBD is one of the autoimmune chronic conditions; caused by inflammation in the area of intestinal mucosal lining. IBD includes two main phenotypes, which are Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, both of which have direct relation with gut microbiome dysbiosis (Marchesi et al. 2016). Lower diversity in the gut microbiota can lead to the development of several allergic reactions, such as atopic eczema. Absence of proper communication between gut microbiome and brain can cause autism spectrum disease. In case of colorectal cancer, it is assumed that environmental factors might affect the gut microbes, which can promote the development of CRC (Kostic et al. 2015).

The point of initiating care-

Although gut microbiome plays positive role in maintaining our body, however, it is required to know at what points we need to start focus on our gastrointestinal systems. There are some signs of unhealthy gut, such as upset stomach like gas, constipation, diarrhoea, unintentional changes in weight, skin irritation, autoimmune conditions, sleep disturbances, and food intolerance (Mayer et al. 2015). If any one of this issue becomes chronic, then we need to consult with expert gasteroenterologists.

Process of treatments-

Currently, for reducing the issues of gut microbiota imbalance, and other disease developmental consequences,

a number of treatment processes can be followed, such as-

  • Application of probiotics and prebiotics would strengthen the intestinal microbial population, which leads to balancing the population size present in the gut of human. From the past few years, the combination of pro and prebiotics are used, which is known as synbiotics for better outcome (West et al. 2015).
  • Gut microbiota can be maintained by dietary alterations, as dietary supplements including high fiber food products would help in this case.
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation is one of the modern treatment method associated with the dysbiosis of gut microbiota. This process is based on the principle of microbial modulation (Jangi et al. 2016).

Apart from this, people can also reduce the adversities of gut microbial imbalance by changing some regular activities, such as lowering stress level, getting enough sleep, eating slowly, staying hydrated, taking prebiotics, checking food tolerance level, and changing diet plans.

Future outlooks

Some pivotal roles are played by the microorganisms identified as the member of gut microbial system, which have direct relationship in positive and negative health aspects. During healthy stages, the gut microbiome contributes in energy recovery, metabolism, digestion, and immune system modulation. However, imbalance and dysbiosis in gut microbiome can cause both systematic and chronic health issues. However, the relationship between the microbial dysbiosis and the intestinal diseases is still not clear, therefore, further research studies are required to identify the causal effects, consequences, and correlations.

Reference List

  • Bull, M.J. and Plummer, N.T., (2014). Part 1: The human gut microbiome in health and disease. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, 13(6), p.17.
  • Carding, S., Verbeke, K., Vipond, D.T., Corfe, B.M. and Owen, L.J., 2015. Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in disease. Microbial ecology in health and disease, 26(1), p.26191.
  • Durack, J. and Lynch, S.V., (2018). The gut microbiome: Relationships with disease and opportunities for therapy. Journal of Experimental Medicine, pp.jem-20180448.
  • Ho, J.T., Chan, G.C. and Li, J.C., (2015). Systemic effects of gut microbiota and its relationship with disease and modulation. BMC immunology, 16(1), p.21.
  • Jangi, S., Gandhi, R., Cox, L.M., Li, N., Von Glehn, F., Yan, R., Patel, B., Mazzola, M.A., Liu, S., Glanz, B.L. and Cook, S., 2016. Alterations of the human gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis. Nature communications, 7, p.12015.
  • Kostic, A.D., Gevers, D., Siljander, H., Vatanen, T., Hyötyläinen, T., Hämäläinen, A.M., Peet, A., Tillmann, V., Pöhö, P., Mattila, I. and Lähdesmäki, H., 2015. The dynamics of the human infant gut microbiome in development and in progression toward type 1 diabetes. Cell host & microbe, 17(2), pp.260-273.
  • Marchesi, J.R., Adams, D.H., Fava, F., Hermes, G.D., Hirschfield, G.M., Hold, G., Quraishi, M.N., Kinross, J., Smidt, H., Tuohy, K.M. and Thomas, L.V., (2016). The gut microbiota and host health: a new clinical frontier. Gut, 65(2), pp.330-339.
  • Mayer, E.A., Tillisch, K. and Gupta, A., 2015. Gut/brain axis and the microbiota. The Journal of clinical investigation, 125(3), pp.926-938.
  • Nguyen, T.L.A., Vieira-Silva, S., Liston, A. and Raes, J., 2015. How informative is the mouse for human gut microbiota research?. Disease models & mechanisms, 8(1), pp.1-16.
  • West, C.E., Jenmalm, M.C. and Prescott, S.L., 2015. The gut microbiota and its role in the development of allergic disease: a wider perspective. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 45(1), pp.43-53.

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