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Mol Metab. 2016 Jun 6;5(9):771-81. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2016.05.016. eCollection 2016 Sep.

Gut microbiota and immune crosstalk in metabolic disease.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), Toulouse, France; Université Paul Sabatier (UPS), Unité Mixte de Recherche (UMR) 1048, Institut des Maladies Métaboliques et Cardiovasculaires (I2MC), F-31432 Toulouse Cedex 4, France.



Gut microbiota is considered as a major regulator of metabolic disease. This reconciles the notion of metabolic inflammation and the epidemic development of the disease. In addition to evidence showing that a specific gut microbiota characterizes patients with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hepatic steatosis, the mechanisms causal to the disease could be related to the translocation of microbiota from the gut to the tissues, inducing inflammation. The mechanisms regulating such a process are based on the crosstalk between the gut microbiota and the host immune system. The hologenome theory of evolution supports this concept and implies that therapeutic strategies aiming to control glycemia should take into account both the gut microbiota and the host immune system.


This review discusses the latest evidence regarding the bidirectional impact of the gut microbiota on host immune system crosstalk for the control of metabolic disease, hyperglycemia, and obesity. To avoid redundancies with the literature, we will focus our attention on the intestinal immune system, identifying evidence for the generation of novel therapeutic strategies, which could be based on the control of the translocation of gut bacteria to tissues. Such novel strategies should hamper the role played by gut microbiota dysbiosis on the development of metabolic inflammation.


Recent evidence in rodents allows us to conclude that an impaired intestinal immune system characterizes and could be causal in the development of metabolic disease. The fine understanding of the molecular mechanisms should allow for the development of a first line of treatment for metabolic disease and its co-morbidities. This article is part of a special issue on microbiota.


AMP, anti-microbial peptides; APC, antigen presenting cells; Bacterial translocation; ILC, innate lymphoid cells; Intestinal immune system; Microbiota; Obesity; Type 2 diabetes

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