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Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Aug 16;8(9):523-31. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2011.133.

The intestinal microbiota and chronic disorders of the gut.

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University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 6431 Fannin Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Mucosal surfaces of the gut are colonized by large numbers of heterogeneous bacteria that contribute to intestinal health and disease. In genetically susceptible individuals, a 'pathogenic community' may arise, whereby abnormal gut flora contributes to alterations in the mucosa and local immune system leading to gastrointestinal disease. These diseases include enteric infections, such as Clostridium difficile infection, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, functional gastrointestinal disorders (including IBS), IBD and colorectal cancer. Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics (a combination of prebiotics and probiotics) have the capacity to reverse pathologic changes in gut flora and local immunity. Intestinal health and disease need to be thoroughly characterized to understand the interplay between the indigenous microbiota, the immune system and genetic host factors. This Review provides a broad overview of the importance of the intestinal microbiota in chronic disorders of the gut.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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