Research about gut microbiome has taken off in the last two decades, with over 50 000 scientific articles on the topic being published in the Web of Science database alone, since 2005.
Both infectious and chronic diseases have been shown to develop changes in the gut microbiome structure2. Additionally, these intestinal microbiome changes have indicated host vulnerability to some infectious diseases.
To test and develop new treatments for disease, it becomes essential to study such disease-associated gut microbiome changes.
Microbiome association with disease
Recent studies on the human gut microbiome show the importance of microbiome structure, as this has been linked to reduced risk of disease, protection against infection, increased immunity, mood and behaviour.
Additionally, the gut microbiome has been shown to affect host metabolism, endocrine, neural functions and, in turn, host susceptibility to a series of diseases.
Adjusting gut structure according to age
Ageing affects the gut microbes, which continues to change over a lifetime. Yet, to target and treat disease across all ages, studies need to focus on the identification of specific changes in disease-related microbiome structures.
In a recent study, it was found that disease-microbiome associations displayed trends specific to age. For example, patients with colorectal cancer exhibited ageing-associated microbiome changes similar to disease-like configurations.
Additionally, in a study on centenarians, who are believed to be the model for healthy aging (as due to avoidance of chronic disease), it was found that a diverse gut seemed to have positive effects in disease avoidance.
To recommend new treatments for these diseases, current research needs to identify the risk-related microbes present in the ill, helpful microbes lacking in patients with particular diseases and any specific gut microbe changes found across multiple diseases.