Human Gut Microbes

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Human Gut Microbes The human gut is home to many bacteria, many of which are considered "commensal." This means that the bacteria are helped by their relationship with the host (the human) but the host is not affected.

According to a 2012 article:[1]

"Under normal conditions, the gut “receives” a large amount of bacteria from the hands, pharyngeal and nasal secretions, water, food, and beverages. Neonates acquire the environmental flora very quickly after birth[2] and in a few cases develop sepsis after translocation of this new flora.[3] In healthy humans, the gut flora in each individual is surprisingly stable,[4] and ingested pathogens are cleared fairly easily due to the presence of the commensal flora composed chiefly of anaerobes, most of which are very difficult to isolate. The ingestion of large inoculums of highly pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella spp, or staphylococci) or viruses (e.g., enteroviruses such as echovirus) can destabilise the normal gut microbiome, overwhelm natural defence mechanisms, and induce various clinical symptoms. Antibiotics also very efficiently destabilise the gut microbiome.[5][6][7] Genetic studies show that even an extremely brief course of antibiotics such as macrolides can induce very long-lived changes in the gut flora, for up to 4 years.[8]"

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Jean Carlet, "The gut is the epicentre of antibiotic resistance," Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control, November 27, 2012.
  2. Guarino A, Wudy A, Basile F, Ruberto E, Buccigrossi V, "Composition and roles of intestinal microbiota in children," J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med, April 2012.
  3. Das P, Singh AK, Pal T. et al. Colonization of the gut with Gram-negative bacilli, its association with neonatal sepsis and its clinical relevance in a developing country. J Med Microbiol. 2011;60:1651–1660. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.033803-0.
  4. Tezuka H, Ohteki T, "Regulation of intestinal homeostasis by dendritic cells," Immunol Rev, March 2010.
  5. Cremieux AC, Muller-Serieys C, Panhard X. et al. Emergence of resistance in normal human aerobic commensal flora during telithromycin and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid treatments. Antimicrobiol Agents Chemother. 2003;47:2030–2035. doi: 10.1128/AAC.47.6.2030-2035.2003.
  6. Jemberg C, Loffmark S, Edlund C, Jansson J. Long-term impacts of antibiotic exposure on the human intestinal microbiota. Microbiology. 2010;156:3216–3223. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.040618-0.
  7. Jeong SH, Song YK, Cho JH. Risk assessment of ciprofloxacin, flavomycin, olaquindox and colistin sulfate based on microbiological impact on human biota. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009;53:209–216. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2009.01.004.
  8. Jakobsson HE, Jemberg C, Andersson AF. et al, "Short-term antibiotic treatment has differing long-term impacts on the human throat and gut microbiome," PLos One, 2010.

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