We are in the midst of "the microbiome revolution"-not a day goes by without some new revelation on the potential role of the gut microbiome in some disease or disorder. From an ever-increasing recognition of the many roles of the gut microbiome in health and disease comes the expectation that its modulation could treat or prevent these very same diseases. A variety of interventions could, at least in theory, be employed to alter the composition or functional capacity of the microbiome, ranging from diet to fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). For some, such as antibiotics, prebiotics, and probiotics, an extensive, albeit far from consistent, literature already exists; for others, such as other dietary supplements and FMT, high-quality clinical studies are still relatively few in number. Not surprisingly, researchers have turned to the microbiome itself as a source for new entities that could be used therapeutically to manipulate the microbiome; for example, some probiotic strains currently in use were sourced from the gastrointestinal tract of healthy humans. From all of the extant studies of interventions targeted at the gut microbiome, a number of important themes have emerged. First, with relatively few exceptions, we are still a long way from a precise definition of the role of the gut microbiome in many of the diseases where a disturbed microbiome has been described-association does not prove causation. Second, while animal models can provide fascinating insights into microbiota-host interactions, they rarely recapitulate the complete human phenotype. Third, studies of several interventions have been difficult to interpret because of variations in study population, test product, and outcome measures, not to mention limitations in study design. The goal of microbiome modulation is a laudable one, but we need to define our targets, refine our interventions, and agree on outcomes.
- fecal microbiota transplantation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)