The Human Microbiome and Probiotics: Implications for Pediatrics

Michael H. Hsieh, James Versalovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Advances in the science of probiotics in the 21st century will be fueled by human microbiome research and functional genomics of beneficial microbes. These indigenous microbes or "old friends" facilitate digestion, absorption of vitamins, development of robust immune responses, and suppression of pathogens. Two primary pipelines will serve as development strategies for new probiotics in human medicine. First, identification of genes responsible for key probiotic functions will enable derivation of genetically modified organisms, or so-called "designer strains," that will represent improved engineered alternatives to natural probiotic strains for specific biomedical applications. Second, candidate probiotic strains isolated from natural sources (human, animal, or food) can be compared systematically by functional genomics and systems biology. Optimal or "ideal" natural probiotics can then be selected for specific probiotics applications in medicine. Many additional laboratory and clinical studies must be performed in the future to clarify mechanisms of probiosis and matching of specific probiotics or synbiotics with specific disease phenotypes in children. In summary, humans have utilized beneficial bacteria via the diet throughout human history. Investigator-initiated research and mega-science as in the Human Microbiome Project will drive accelerated development of probiotics for prevention and treatment of many pediatric disorders now and in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-327
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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