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Cross-Talk: Microbiome & Immune System Balance

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 8 April 2021
Cross-Talk: Microbiome & Immune System Balance

The human intestinal microbiome acts as a signalling hub that integrates environmental inputs, such as diet and lifestyle, with our genetic and metabolic pathways. Its impacts are widespread across host systems, including the immune system,1 which is capable of adapting and responding to a wide range of challenges. How does the microbiome interact with the immune system, and how do these interactions help determine a state of health or disease in the body?
Reciprocal cross-talk between the microbiome and cells in the intestinal mucosal immune system is well-documented. We now understand that this cross-talk is important for immune system maturation and modulation across all developmental stages; studies of germ-free mice demonstrate that a lack of gut microbiota leads to significant immune deficiency. Maintaining a homeostatic balance between microbial activity and host immune response toward the microbiota is what allows the immune system to function appropriately to defend against infection yet also demonstrate appropriate tolerance.
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Fung. The microbiota-immune axis as a central mediator of gut-brain communication. Neurobiol Dis. 2020;136. doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2019.104714
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Shi N, Li N, Duan X, Niu H. Interaction between the gut microbiome and mucosal immune system. Mil Med Res. 2017;4(1). doi:10.1186s40779-017-0122-9
Sellitto M, Bai G, Serena G, et al. Proof of concept of microbiome-metabolome analysis and delayed gluten exposure on celiac disease autoimmunity in genetically at-risk infants. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):E33387. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033387
Pagliari D, Gambassi G, Piccirillo CA, Cianci R. The Intricate Link among Gut "Immunological Niche," Microbiota, and Xenobiotics in Intestinal Pathology. Mediators of inflammation. 2017;2017:8390595. doi:10.1155/2017/8390595

Author:Manuela Boyle
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  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
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  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • British Naturopathic Association