Current status of the microbiome in renal transplantation

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Purpose of review

An imbalance between pathogenic and protective microbiota characterizes dysbiosis. Presence of dysbiosis may affect immunity, tolerance, or disease depending on a variety of conditions. In the transplant patient population, the need for immunosuppression and widespread use of prophylactic and therapeutic antimicrobial agents create new posttransplant microbiota communities that remain to be fully defined.

Recent findings

Studies in mice have demonstrated significant bidirectional interactions between microbiota-derived products and host immune cells. The stimulation of regulatory T cell and T helper cell type 17 cells by specific products leads to maintenance of immune homeostasis versus activation of inflammation, respectively. Dysbiosis may lead to development of antigen cross-reactivity, which may affect alloreactivity. Certain immunologic sequelae of microbiota are pronounced in chronic kidney disease, because of uremia and renal metabolism of microbiota metabolites. Dietary modifications, probiotics, and fecal microbiota transplant have been investigated for alteration of microbiota in humans.


Researchers have begun to identify dysbioses associated with clinical conditions, including chronic kidney disease, posttransplant infection, and rejection. This information will allow clinicians not only to select at-risk patients for early intervention, but also to develop therapies that restore the microbiota to a state of homeostasis or tolerance.

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