Exploring the microbiome in health and disease: Implications for toxicology


Authored by  E Scotti, S Boue, G Lo Sasso, F Zanetti, V Belcastro, C Poussin, N Sierro, JND Battey, A Gimalac, NV Ivanov, J Hoeng

Published in Toxicology Research and Application    

The analysis of human microbiome is an exciting and rapidly expanding field of research. In the past decade, the biological relevance of the microbiome for human health has become evident. Microbiome comprises a complex collection of microorganisms, with their genes and metabolites, colonizing different body niches. It is now well known that the microbiome interacts with its host, assisting in the bioconversion of nutrients and detoxification, supporting immunity, protecting against pathogenic microbes, and maintaining health. Remarkable new findings showed that our microbiome not only primarily affects the health and function of the gastrointestinal tract but also has a strong influence on general body health through its close interaction with the nervous system and the lung. Therefore, a perfect and sensitive balanced interaction of microbes with the host is required for a healthy body. In fact, growing evidence suggests that the dynamics and function of the indigenous microbiota can be influenced by many factors, including genetics, diet, age, and toxicological agents like cigarette smoke, environmental contaminants, and drugs. The disruption of this balance, that is called dysbiosis, is associated with a plethora of diseases, including metabolic diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, periodontitis, skin diseases, and neurological disorders. The importance of the host microbiome for the human health has also led to the emergence of novel therapeutic approaches focused on the intentional manipulation of the microbiota, either by restoring missing functions or eliminating harmful roles. In the present review, we outline recent studies devoted to elucidate not only the role of microbiome in health conditions and the possible link with various types of diseases but also the influence of various toxicological factors on the microbial composition and function.