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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Apr;25(4):657-70. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013080905. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

The gut microbiome, kidney disease, and targeted interventions.

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Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, The George Washington University, Washington DC.


The human gut harbors >100 trillion microbial cells, which influence the nutrition, metabolism, physiology, and immune function of the host. Here, we review the quantitative and qualitative changes in gut microbiota of patients with CKD that lead to disturbance of this symbiotic relationship, how this may contribute to the progression of CKD, and targeted interventions to re-establish symbiosis. Endotoxin derived from gut bacteria incites a powerful inflammatory response in the host organism. Furthermore, protein fermentation by gut microbiota generates myriad toxic metabolites, including p-cresol and indoxyl sulfate. Disruption of gut barrier function in CKD allows translocation of endotoxin and bacterial metabolites to the systemic circulation, which contributes to uremic toxicity, inflammation, progression of CKD, and associated cardiovascular disease. Several targeted interventions that aim to re-establish intestinal symbiosis, neutralize bacterial endotoxins, or adsorb gut-derived uremic toxins have been developed. Indeed, animal and human studies suggest that prebiotics and probiotics may have therapeutic roles in maintaining a metabolically-balanced gut microbiota and reducing progression of CKD and uremia-associated complications. We propose that further research should focus on using this highly efficient metabolic machinery to alleviate uremic symptoms.

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