Review Article | Published:

The role of the microbiota in infectious diseases

Nature Microbiologyvolume 4pages3545 (2019) | Download Citation


The human body is colonized by a diverse community of microorganisms collectively referred to as the microbiota. Here, we describe how the human microbiota influences susceptibility to infectious diseases using examples from the respiratory, gastrointestinal and female reproductive tract. We will discuss how interactions between the host, the indigenous microbiota and non-native microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can alter the outcome of infections. This Review Article will highlight the complex mechanisms by which the microbiota mediates colonization resistance, both directly and indirectly, against infectious agents. Strategies for the therapeutic modulation of the microbiota to prevent or treat infectious diseases will be discussed, and we will review potential therapies that directly target the microbiota, including prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics and faecal microbiota transplantation.

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The authors thank D. R. Hill, K. Rao and C. M. Bassis for helpful feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript, and D. R. Hill for many helpful conversations regarding this manuscript. This work was supported by a grant awarded to V.B.Y. from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (U01-AI124255).

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  1. Department of Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases Division, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    • Josie Libertucci
    •  & Vincent B. Young
  2. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    • Vincent B. Young


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All authors contributed to the conceptualization, writing and preparation of this manuscript, as well as the creation of the figures.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Vincent B. Young.

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