Phages and immunomodulation

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In the past years, the microbiome and its role in the pathophysiology of diseases have gained great interest. The progress of our knowledge in this field opens completely novel prospects for treating disorders, including those which are most challenging to medicine today. Of special interest are studies on the interactions of the microbiome with the immune system. Only recently has the presence of bacteriophages in the microbiome been highlighted, and their potential role in maintaining normal immunity has gained increasing attention. We summarize the available data pointing to the potential impact of phages in maintaining immunological homeostasis.

The current surge of interest in the microbiome and the recent application of advanced sequencing technology have allowed us to determine the microbiome’s role in disease pathophysiology and its potential modulation for therapeutic purposes [1]. The interactions among the intestinal immune system, the epithelial barrier and the bacteria that reside on, are fundamental to maintaining a healthy gut homeostasis [2,3]. A schema of intestinal phage translocation and its protective role is shown in Figure 1. The microbiota has an important role in shaping the human immune system, for example, interindividual variation in responses to vaccines, chemotherapy and immune-modulating agents is influenced by differences in the gut microbiota [4]. This fascination with the gut microbiota shows no signs of slowing down, which is confirmed by the launch of the US National Microbiome Initiative in 2016 and similar activities worldwide [5]. The explosion of microbiome research is also illustrated by the fivefold increase in the number of relevant citations in the past 5 years [6].

Click here to read the full article in Future Micriobiology.

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