Microbiota Metabolite Regulation of Host Immune Homeostasis: A Mechanistic Missing Link
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Metazoans predominantly co-exist with symbiotic microorganisms called the microbiota. Metagenomic surveys of the microbiota reveal a diverse ecosystem of microbes particularly in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Perturbations in the GI microbiota in higher mammals (i.e., humans) are linked to diseases with variegated symptomology including inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and auto-inflammatory disorders. Indeed, studies using germ-free mice (lacking a microbiota) confirm that host development and homeostasis are dependent on the microbiota. A long-known key feature of the GI tract microbiota is metabolizing host indigestible dietary matter for maximum energy extraction; however, host signaling pathways are greatly influenced by the microbiota as well. In line with these observations, recent research has revealed that metabolites produced strictly by select microbiota members are mechanistic regulators of host cell functions. In this review, we discuss two major classes of microbiota-produced metabolites: short-chain fatty acids and tryptophan metabolites. We describe the known important roles for these metabolites in shaping host immunity and comment on the current status and future directions for microbiota metabolomics research.
author list (cited authors)
Steinmeyer, S., Lee, K., Jayaraman, A., & Alaniz, R. C.