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Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2003 Sep;4(2):53-60.

Intestinal microflora and homeostasis of the mucosal immune response: implications for probiotic bacteria?

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Nestle Research Centre, Vers-chez-les-Blanc, 1000 Lausanne 26, Switzerland.


The intestinal microflora can be considered a postnatally acquired organ that is composed of a large diversity of bacteria that perform important functions for the host and can be modulated by environmental factors, such as nutrition. Specific components of the intestinal microflora, including lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, have been associated with beneficial effects on the host, such as promotion of gut maturation and integrity, antagonisms against pathogens and immune modulation. Beyond this, the microflora seems to play a significant role in the maintenance of intestinal immune homeostasis and prevention of inflammation. The contribution of the intestinal epithelial cell in the first line of defense against pathogenic bacteria and microbial antigens has been recognized. However, the interactions of intestinal epithelial cells with indigenous bacteria are less well understood. This review will summarize the increasing scientific attention to mechanisms of the innate immune response of the host towards different components of the microflora, and suggest a potential role for selected probiotic bacteria in the regulation of intestinal inflammation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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