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GI highlights from the literature
  1. Mairi H McLean, Education editor
  1. School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mairi H McLean; m.h.mclean{at}

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Basic science

Cross-talk between the gut microbiota and immune cells is vital for homeostasis

Mao K, Baptista A, Tamoutounour S, et al. Innate and adaptive lymphocytes sequentially shape the gut microbiota and lipid metabolism. Nature 2018;554:255–59.

Gut homeostasis requires the gut microbiota to have a mutually beneficial relationship with the host. As the gut microbiota matures and becomes more complex, gut homeostasis is marked by a balanced commensalism and the absence of unwanted inflammation. The innate and adaptive immune responses shape the microbiota to maintain tissue homeostasis. However, defining the specific subsets of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) and conventional T cells and the roles they play has not been determined. Mao and colleagues have shown that innate and adaptive lymphocytes operate sequentially through different mechanisms during normal development to establish steady-state commensalism. At early stages, these cells protect the gut by limiting the numbers of certain proinflammatory bacterial species. Once a robust adaptive immune system is present, CD4+ T cells interact and respond to the gut microbiota and establish a state of non-inflammatory commensalism in which ILCs are largely redundant. If the adaptive immune response fails to develop, the ILC response persists to maintain immune regulation although the outcome results in abnormal lipid handling and tissue homeostasis. The findings support recent studies where the lack of a mature gut microbiota has been associated with severe nutritional abnormalities and highlight the importance of an all-round balanced system to maintain health.

Diet manipulation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Mardinoglu A, Wu H, Bjornson E, et al. An integrated understanding of the rapid metabolic benefits of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on hepatic steatosis in humans. Cell Metab 2018 Feb 7. pii: S1550-4131(18)30054-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.01.005. (Epub ahead of print).

Lifestyle intervention is the first line of treatment in most metabolic conditions and NAFLD is no exception. The exact type of dietary change that should be prescribed to people with NAFLD is not clear. Low …

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  • Contributors Dr Georgina Hold, Dr Richard Parker, Dr Stuart McDonald, Dr Sebastian Zeki, Dr Michael Burkitt, Dr Ashis Mukhopadhya.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.