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Benef Microbes. 2015;6(3):295-311. doi: 10.3920/BM2014.0041.

Contribution of microbiota to the intestinal physicochemical barrier.

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Department of Veterinary Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3203, Chuo Kikuu, Morogoro, Tanzania.


The large number of intestinal microorganisms, which exceeds the total number of human cells by ten folds, alludes to a significant contribution to human health. This is vivid in enteric and some systemic diseases emanating from disruption of the microbiota. As life style keeps shifting towards disruption of the microbiota in most societies worldwide, interest in the contribution of the microbiota to gut health has grown enormously. Many studies have been conducted to elucidate the exact contribution of the microbiota to human health. The knowledge gained from these studies indicates that the microbiota interacts with the intestinal milieu to maintain gut health. In this review, the crosstalk of microbiota with the intestinal physicochemical barrier pivotal to the gut innate immunity is highlighted. In particular, the review focuses on the role of the microbiota on competitive exclusion of pathogens, intestinal pH, epithelial mechanical barrier integrity, apical actin cytoskeleton, antimicrobial peptides, and the mucus layer. Understanding this microbe-host relationship will provide useful insight into overcoming some diseases related to the disruption of the host microbiota.


antimicrobial peptides; competitive exclusion; low pH; mucus layer; tight junctions

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