Oxygen as a driver of gut dysbiosis

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Changes in the composition of gut-associated microbial communities may underlie many inflammatory and allergic diseases. However, the processes that help maintain a stable community structure are poorly understood. Here we review topical work elucidating the nutrient-niche occupied by facultative anaerobic bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae, whose predominance within the gut-associated microbial community is a common marker of dysbiosis. A paucity of exogenous respiratory electron acceptors limits growth of Enterobacteriaceae within a balanced gut-associated microbial community. However, recent studies suggest that the availability of oxygen in the large bowel is markedly elevated by changes in host physiology that accompany antibiotic treatment or infection with enteric pathogens, such as Salmonella serovars or attaching and effacing (AE) pathogens. The resulting increase in oxygen availability, alone or in conjunction with other electron acceptors, drives an uncontrolled luminal expansion of Enterobacteriaceae. Insights into the underlying mechanisms provide important clues about factors that control the balance between the host and its resident microbial communities.

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