The microbes of the intestine: an introduction to their metabolic and signaling capabilities.


This article summarizes advances in the field of host-microbe interactions in the gut. The human gut is home to a complex community of microbes (the microbiota) that plays a critical role in host nutrient acquisition and metabolism, development of intestinal epithelial cells, and host immune system. Genetic background, nutritional status, and environmental factors influence the structure and function of the gut microbiota. Networks for cell-cell communication include microbes actively communicating with microbes of the same and other species; host cells recognizing and interacting with commensal versus pathogenic organisms; and microbes releasing peptides that resemble peptide hormones of vertebrates, possibly influencing host cell function.

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