The mutual interplay of gut microbiota, diet and human disease

Placido Illiano, Roberta Brambilla, Cinzia Parolini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The intestinal milieu harbours the gut microbiota, consisting of a complex community of bacteria, archaea, fungi, viruses and protozoans that bring to the host organism an endowment of cells and genes more numerous than its own. In the last 10 years, mounting evidence has highlighted the prominent influence of the gut mutualistic bacterial communities on human health. Microbial colonization occurs alongside with immune system development and plays a role in intestinal physiology. The community of the gut microbiota does not undergo significant fluctuations throughout adult life. However, bacterial infections, antibiotic treatment, lifestyle, surgery and diet might profoundly affect it. Gut microbiota dysbiosis, defined as marked alterations in the amount and function of the intestinal microorganisms, is correlated with the aetiology of chronic noncommunicable diseases, ranging from cardiovascular, neurologic, respiratory and metabolic illnesses to cancer. In this review, we focus on the interplay among gut microbiota, diet and host to provide a perspective on the role of microbiota and their unique metabolites in the pathogenesis and/or progression of various human disorders. We discuss interventions based on microbiome studies, that is faecal microbiota transplantation, probiotics and prebiotics, to introduce the concept that correcting gut dysbiosis can ameliorate disease symptoms, thus offering a new approach towards disease treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-855
Number of pages23
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • brain
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease
  • central nervous system
  • functional food
  • gut microbiota
  • prebiotics
  • probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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