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J Physiol. 2009 Sep 1;587(Pt 17):4159-67. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.172742. Epub 2009 Jun 2.

The role of the intestinal microbiota in enteric infection.

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Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


The consortia of microorganisms inhabiting the length of the gastrointestinal tract, the gastrointestinal microbiota, are vital to many aspects of normal host physiology. In addition, they are an active participant in the progression of many diseases, among them enteric infections. Healthy intestinal microbiota contribute to host resistance to infection through their involvement in the development of the host immune system and provision of colonization resistance. It is not surprising then that disruptions of the microbial community translate into alterations of host susceptibility to infection. Additionally, the process of the infection itself results in a disturbance to the microbiota. This disturbance is often mediated by the host inflammatory response, allowing the pathogen to benefit from the inflammation at the intestinal mucosa. Uncovering the mechanisms underlying the host-pathogen-microbiota interactions will facilitate our understanding of the infection process and promote design of more effective and focused prophylactic and therapeutic strategies.

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