The theory of disappearing microbiota and the epidemics of chronic diseases

Abstract

In recent decades, the incidence of many apparently unrelated chronic diseases has markedly increased. Here, I theorize that losses of particular bacterial species of our ancestral microbiota have altered the context in which immunological, metabolic and cognitive development occur in early life, which results in increased disease. This ominous trend suggests that we must refocus efforts to understand and reverse the underlying circumstances that are responsible for our disappearing microbiota.

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Figure 1: A model for the interaction of the inherited microbiota with early life immunological development in past and present children.

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Acknowledgements

M.J.B. is supported, in part, by NIH grants U01AI22285 and R01DK090989, and by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the C & D Fund.

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Correspondence to Martin J. Blaser.

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Blaser, M. The theory of disappearing microbiota and the epidemics of chronic diseases. Nat Rev Immunol 17, 461–463 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2017.77

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