Table 1

Key insights into the influence of the gut microbiota on GI and liver diseases

The gut microbiota
  • The gut microbiota is host-specific and variable

  • Loss of diversity has a negative impact on health; conservation of key microbial functions is even more important

Dietary modulation
  • Indigestible carbohydrates are the ‘food’ of the gut microbiota

  • Probiotics, prebiotics and polyphenols can promote gut health via the microbiota

  • The gut microbiome is an environmental factor in obesity

  • Unknown functions in the microbiome can be transferred and recapitulate or treat obesity and its associated metabolic disorders

Liver disease
  • Bacterial dysbiosis can drive hepatitis

  • Bacterial products can cause inflammation in the liver

  • Alterations of the microbiota lie at the core of IBD pathogenesis; these may be driven by host genetics and/or environmental factors

  • Targeting the microbiota remains an attractive option to treating the disease cause

Colorectal cancer
  • Pathobionts such as Fusobacterium nucleatum are overexpressed in adenomas and cancers of the colon.

  • ‘High-risk’ (high fat, high protein) diets modulate this risk through gut microbiome co-metabolic processes.

  • The gut microbiota may drive the first DNA damage either via specific proteins or metabolites

  • Diet can play a large role in shaping the composition of the microbiota and it thus affects risk of developing the disease