Potential clinical usefulness of gut microbiome testing in a variety of clinical conditions

1. Introduction

The gut microbiome comprises the community of microorganisms in the intestinal tract. Over the last five years, interest in the gut microbiome has grown considerably driven by new techniques in DNA sequencing allowing for characterisation of gut bacteria and the recognition of the potential impact the microbiome may have on health. The large intestine has the highest number of microbial organisms, with less found in the more hostile low-pH environment of the small intestine. The large intestine is dominated by anaerobic bacteria which survive and thrive by anaerobically digesting our food .The gut microbiome has coevolved with humans to match our modern lifestyles and is beneficial for our health, supplying essential nutrients, synthetizing vitamins (i.e. vitamin K) and facilitating digestion of undigested carbohydrates. Furthermore, bacteria also help maintain the integrity of the mucosal barrier by preventing antigens and pathogens entering the gut mucosa.

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