Gut microbiota, an element of human microcosm affecting health – literature review

Friday, October 9, 2015

Author: György Biró

 

1. Summary

 

The sum total of the microorganisms of the intestinal tract, the microbiota forms a dynamic unit with the host organism, affecting physiological functions, health status and certain diseases through a web of interactions. Gut

microbiota appears in the first hours of independent life, and accompanies the host organism, with greater or lesser changes, until its last vital signs. It affects intestinal functions, inflammatory disease processes, obesity. It is in connection with the central nervous system through neural connections and chemical contact, it can modify the activities of certain areas of the brain and the behavior, and it can contribute to the development of neurological diseases. It is linked to allergic and immune modulation processes, malignant tumors and type 2 diabetes, among other things.


There are still many connections and mechanisms of action to be explored, because the history of intensive research in this extremely important area is only a few decades long. It is definitely worthwhile to review this area briefly, because very promising factors can be revealed, that can be used in the prevention and treatment of diseases.

 

2. Microorganisms in the human body: the gut microbiota

 

On all surfaces of the human body, there is a plethora of microorganisms, their total number exceeds the number of cells in our bodies by at least an order of magnitude [40]. It is obvious that an „invasion” on such a scale cannot remain without biological consequences. Indeed, a joint organism is formed by human cells and microorganisms together, which is the common force of the two life forms, and in which metabolic regulation is partly transferred to the power of the symbionts [28].


Studying man’s own microbiota started at a relatively early stage of the bacteriological era, already at the end of the 19th century, but in fact until the second half of the last century, until the 60s it had no pronounced effect on the theoretical considerations and practice of medicine. However, already in a work written in 1885, Escherich expressed his conviction that microbiological

research is essential not only for gaining knowledge about the physiology of digestion, but also for the pathology and treatment of intestinal diseases, i.e., the topic should be approached in a complex way [41].


The living community of microorganisms found on the surfaces and in the internal structures of the human body developed and changed during the evolution of mankind, and its exploration is made possible by the use of state-of-theart analytical techniques in archeological remains as well, such as coprolite, plaque, mummified remains and secondary deposits in bones [53]. Microbiota consists of the full range of microorganisms: bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses. Moreover, according to model studies performed on mice, certain viruses are capable of substituting for bacterial colonization: an example is the murine norovirus (MNV) belonging to the Caliciviridae family.

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