Sonnenburg ED, Sonnenburg JL. (2014) Cell Metab. 20(5) 779-86. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.07.003. Epub 2014 Aug 21.
The gut microbiota of a healthy person may not be equivalent to a healthy microbiota. It is possible that the Western microbiota is actually dysbiotic and predisposes individuals to a variety of diseases.
The asymmetric plasticity between the relatively stable human genome and the more malleable gut microbiome suggests that incompatibilities between the two could rapidly arise. The Western lifestyle, which includes a diet low in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs), has selected for a microbiota with altered membership and functionality compared to those of groups living traditional lifestyles.
Interactions between resident microbes and host leading to immune dysregulation may explain several diseases that share inflammation as a common basis. The low-MAC Western diet results in poor production of gut microbiota-generated short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which attenuate inflammation through a variety of mechanisms in mouse models.
Studies focused on modern and traditional societies, combined with animal models, are needed to characterize the connection between diet, microbiota composition, and function. Differentiating between an optimal microbiota, one that increases disease risk, and one that is causative or potentiates disease will be required to further understand both the etiology and possible treatments for health problems related to microbiota dysbiosis.
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