Klingensmith, N.J. & Coopersmith, C.M. Critical Care. Published online: 19 December 2016
Approximately 40 trillion bacteria reside inside the human intestine, meaning there are at least as many cells of microbial origin as human origin. While it was once believed that bacteria and humans simply co-existed in the same space, a wide body of evidence now suggests that host–microbial communication is more complex than ever imagined and the microbiome plays a critical role in maintaining host homeostasis. The microbiome is also altered in multiple disease states, including heart disease , cancer, and Clostridium difficile infection, with changes detectable in microbial composition, number, diversity, and virulence compared to healthy controls. While the majority of studies linking the microbiome to disease are associative, there is increasing evidence that the microbiome plays a crucial role in mediating the pathophysiology of multiple acute and chronic illnesses.
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