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Cell Host Microbe. 2008 Jun 12;3(6):344-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2008.05.010.

Commensals, bacterial pathogens and intestinal inflammation: an intriguing ménage à trois.

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  • 1Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculaire, Institut Pasteur, 28 Rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


According to a classical view of bacterial-host interactions at intestinal surfaces, the commensal microbiota establishes tolerance, and invasive pathogens cause stereotypic inflammation. The reality is more complex, marked by a "ménage à trois" situation encompassing three emerging concepts: (1) pathogens take advantage of inflammation to cross the epithelial barrier, (2) pathogens reduce the commensal flora to invade their niche, and (3) pathogens express dedicated effectors that modulate inflammation.

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