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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Apr;23(2):192-201. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.11.004. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

The potential for probiotic manipulation of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

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Colitis and Crohn's Disease Microbiome Research Core, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Multiple internal and external sites of the healthy human body are colonized by a diversity of symbiotic microbes. The microbial assemblages found in the intestine represent some of the most dense and diverse of these human-associated ecosystems. Unsurprisingly, the enteric microbiome, that is the totality of microbes, their combined genomes, and their interactions with the human body, has a profound impact on physiological aspects of mammalian function, not least, host immune response. Lack of early-life exposure to certain microbes, or shifts in the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiome have been linked to the development and progression of several intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases, including childhood asthma development and inflammatory bowel disease. Modulating microbial exposure through probiotic supplementation represents a long-held strategy towards ameliorating disease via intestinal microbial community restructuring. This field has experienced somewhat of a resurgence over the past few years, primarily due to the exponential increase in human microbiome studies and a growing appreciation of our dependence on resident microbiota to modulate human health. This review aims to review recent regulatory aspects related to probiotics in food. It also summarizes what is known to date with respect to human gastrointestinal microbiota - the niche which has been most extensively studied in the human system - and the evidence for probiotic supplementation as a viable therapeutic strategy for modulating this consortium.

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