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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013;358:323-46. doi: 10.1007/82_2011_189.

Contribution of the intestinal microbiota to human health: from birth to 100 years of age.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. jing.cheng@helsinki.fi


Our intestinal tract is colonized since birth by multiple microbial species that show a characteristic succession in time. Notably the establishment of the microbiota in early life is important as it appears to impact later health. While apparently stable in healthy adults, the intestinal microbiota is changing significantly during aging. After 100 years of symbiosis marked changes have been observed that may relate to an increased level of intestinal inflammation. There is considerable interest in the microbiota in health and disease as it may provide functional biomarkers, the possibility to differentiate subjects, and avenues for interventions. This chapter reviews the present state of the art on the research to investigate the contribution of the intestinal microbiota to human health. Specific attention will be given to the healthy microbiota and aberrations due to disturbances such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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