Laboratory Animals - June Issue - 271

Special Issue: Microbiota

The role of gut microbiota in intestinal
and liver diseases

Laboratory Animals
2019, Vol. 53(3) 271-280
! The Author(s) 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/0023677218818605
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Tomas Hrncir1 , Lucia Hrncirova1,2, Miloslav Kverka1 and
Helena Tlaskalova-Hogenova1

Abstract
The world-wide incidence of many immune-mediated and metabolic diseases, including those of the intestines and liver, is steadily increasing. Gut microbiota plays a central role in the pathogenesis of these diseases
as it mediates environmental changes to the intestinal immune system. Various environmental factors including diet, food additives and medication also trigger the compositional and functional alterations of microbiota,
that is, dysbiosis, and this dysbiosis is closely associated with many chronic inflammatory diseases. However,
the causal relationship remains unclear for the majority of these diseases. In this review, we discuss essential
epidemiological data, known pathogenetic factors including those of genetic and environmental nature, while
mainly focusing on the role of gut microbiota in the development of selected intestinal and liver diseases.
Using specific examples, we also briefly describe some of the most widely-used animal models including
gnotobiotic models and their contribution to the research of pathogenetic mechanisms of the host-microbiota
relationship.

Keywords
inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, coeliac disease, dysbiosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Date received: 22 April 2018; accepted: 16 November 2018

Introduction
For many decades, the incidence of numerous chronic
immune-mediated and metabolic diseases, including
intestinal and liver diseases, has been increasing.
These diseases, initially affecting mainly affluent
Western countries, are rapidly spreading to developing
countries with dietary and lifestyle changes likely being
key risk factors promoting their incidence. Modern
processed food and microbiome alterations are often
incompatible with the age-old human genome which
requires thousands of years at least to adjust to dietary
changes. This fact has been well documented by ancient
human genome-sequencing projects focusing on evolutionary adaptations to a high-starch diet and dairy
products.1 Our microbiome has evolved along with us
for millions of years, shaping our immune system and
development,2 so it is not surprising that these changes
may have far-reaching consequences to our health.
Indeed, compositional and functional changes of gut
microbiota, known as dysbiosis, are associated with a
whole range of civilisation diseases. These three major

features typically characterise dysbiosis: (a) the
decrease in microbiota diversity which is associated
with many chronic inflammatory diseases; (b) the
reduction or complete loss of beneficial microbes; and
(c) the increased number of potentially pathogenic
microbes (pathobionts). In a healthy gut ecosystem,
pathobionts represent a relatively low percentage of
gut microbiota. However, the outgrowth of pathobionts, such as Enterobacteriaceae, is frequently
observed in many infectious and immune-mediated
diseases.3,4
Dysbiosis could be caused by host-derived factors
such as genetic background, compromised general
health (infections, inflammation) and lifestyle (lack of
1

Institute of Microbiology, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech
Republic
2
Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Czech Republic
Corresponding author:
Tomas Hrncir, Institute of Microbiology of the CAS, Doly 183, 54922
Novy Hradek, Czech Republic.
Email: hrncir@biomed.cas.cz


https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/journals-permissions https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0023677219836715 http://journals.sagepub.com/home/lan http://www.orcid.org/0000-0001-6073-2412

Laboratory Animals - June Issue

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Laboratory Animals - June Issue

Contents
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