Today we discuss the microbiome and how it functions as an immune organ in the body. You can click on the above Nature animation to learn more about mucosal immunology.
Balanced vs Unbalanced Gut
Scientists examine the effects the gut microbiome has on the immune and mucosal system. A healthy microbiome is shown to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. In contrast, an imbalanced flora can cause inflammatory bowel disease. This comparison highlights how the changes in the gut can detrimentally affect the mucosal system.
Why You Want Microbes
This article studies the symbiotic relationship between humans and microbial populations that live within us. It explains how the microbiota functions as a shield to protect the intestine from exogenous pathogens and harmful microorganisms. In other words, microbes are needed to sustain our health!
What Happens When There is an Imbalance?
Changes in intestinal microbiota composition have been observed in many complex diseases. The composition of the microbiome is relatively stable, however, alterations can occur as a result of diet, immune-metabolic function, and genotype composition. This article raises awareness about the importance of these gut changes and how they can relate to diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or allergic inflammation. The authors suggest that more research is needed to discover mechanisms that can restore symbiotic homeostasis.
With so many unanswered questions around the role of the gut as an immune organ, how can we use data, digital tools and citizen science to begin to build a “learning” autoimmune community?