Inflammatory bowel disease, gut bacteria and probiotic therapy

Caroline Reiff, Denise Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are the two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and both diseases lead to high morbidity and health care costs. Complex interactions between the immune system, enteric commensal bacteria and host genotype are thought to underlie the development of IBD although the precise aetiology of this group of diseases is still unknown. The understanding of the composition and complexity of the normal gut microbiota has been greatly aided by the use of molecular methods and is likely to be further increased with the advent of metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approaches, which will allow an increasingly more holistic assessment of the microbiome with respect to both diversity and function of the commensal gut microbiota. Studies thus far have shown that the intestinal microbiota drives the development of the gut immune system and can induce immune homeostasis as well as contribute to the development of IBD. Probiotics which deliver some of the beneficial immunomodulatory effects of the commensal gut microbiota and induce immune homeostasis have been proposed as a suitable treatment for mild to moderate IBD. This review provides an overview over the current understanding of the commensal gut microbiota, its interactions with the mucosal immune system and its capacity to induce both gut homeostasis as well as dysregulation of the immune system. Bacterial-host events, including interactions with pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) expressed on epithelial cells and dendritic cells (DCs) and the resultant impact on immune responses at mucosal surfaces will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology: IJMM
Issue number1
Early online date2 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • intestinal microbiota
  • probiotics
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • immunomodulation
  • gradient gel-electrophoresis
  • intestinal epithelial-cells
  • avium subspecies paratuberculosis
  • invasive escherichia-coli
  • active ulcerative-colitis
  • polymerase-chain-reaction
  • lactic-acid bacteria
  • gene-expression data
  • toll-like receptors
  • Crohns-disease


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