Navigating the microbial basis of inflammatory bowel diseases: Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Laura E. Raffals, Eugene B. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract with variable presentations and disease courses. The cause of IBD is unknown, but it is hypothesized that individuals with a genetic predisposition to disease develop an aberrant immune response to environmental triggers. Evidence suggests that microbiota residing in the gastrointestinal tract play an important role in the development and perpetuation of the disease. In this review, we discuss the role of microbes in the development of a healthy gut, their role in the development of diseases in general, and their role in the development of IBD. Advances in molecular technologies and bioinformatics will continue to further our insight into the structure of the microbial community, the function of the microbial community as a whole, and the interaction of this community with the host immune system. The latter two are crucial to understanding the role of microbes in IBD. The field has advanced significantly in recent years, and the future is very promising as we begin to elucidate the microbial basis of IBD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalGut and Liver
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2016


  • Colitis, ulcerative
  • Crohn disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Microbial
  • Microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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