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Front Microbiol. 2019 Jan 9;9:3249. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03249. eCollection 2018.

A Fungal World: Could the Gut Mycobiome Be Involved in Neurological Disease?

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
2
IBD Clinical and Research Centre, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
3
National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
4
Centre for Brain Health and Faculty of Medicine (Neurology), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
5
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Abstract

The human microbiome has received decades of attention from scientific and medical research communities. The human gastrointestinal tract is host to immense populations of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, archaea, and fungi (the gut microbiota). High-throughput sequencing and computational advancements provide unprecedented ability to investigate the structure and function of microbial communities associated with the human body in health and disease. Most research to date has largely focused on elucidating the bacterial component of the human gut microbiota. Study of the gut "mycobiota," which refers to the diverse array of fungal species, is a relatively new and rapidly progressing field. Though omnipresent, the number and abundance of fungi occupying the human gut is orders of magnitude smaller than that of bacteria. Recent insights however, have suggested that the gut mycobiota may be intricately linked to health and disease. Evaluation of the gut mycobiota has shown that not only are the fungal communities altered in disease, but they also play a role in maintaining intestinal homeostasis and influencing systemic immunity. In addition, it is now widely accepted that host-fungi and bacteria-fungi associations are critical to host health. While research of the gut mycobiota in health and disease is on the rise, little research has been performed in the context of neuroimmune and neurodegenerative conditions. Gut microbiota dysbiosis (specifically bacteria and archaea) have been reported in neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer's, among others. Given the widely accepted bacteria-fungi associations and paucity of mycobiota-specific studies in neurological disease, this review discusses the potential role fungi may play in multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases. Herein, we provide an overview of recent advances in gut mycobiome research and discuss the plausible role of both intestinal and non-intestinal fungi in the context of neuroimmune and neurodegenerative conditions.

KEYWORDS:

fungi; gut; multiple sclerosis; mycobiome; mycobiota; neurological disease

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