Background: Researchers have made every effort to assess the role of gut microbiota in pediatric diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, asthma, allergy, and autism. The leading hypothesis is that an altered microbial composition is present (other than the presence of a specific pathogen) and that it could be involved in the pathogenesis or progression of such disorders. Methods: Cultural, molecular, metabolomic, and metagenomic approaches are trying to define the pediatric gut microbiota imbalances in different diseases. Results and Conclusion: In pediatric IBD, a marked increase in aerobes and facultative anaerobes was found, along with an increase in Enterobacteriaceae members (Escherichia coli). In both pediatric IBD and celiac disease (Th1-mediated disorders), higher bacterial cell counts were observed, jointly with a general gain of biodiversity. A preponderance of Bacteroidetes and a parallel decrease of Firmicutes was also reported in IBD, celiac disease and autism. Contrarily, dietary changes due to Western lifestyles increase Firmicutes populations and lower short-chain fatty acids production, possibly exposing ‘developed’ children to the infectious challenge (Escherichia and Shigella spp.). Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species could be protective agents for atopic diseases, while Clostridia, Enterobacteriaceae, and staphylococci can be associated with an increased risk of such Th2-mediated disorders. In the brain-gut axis view, gut microbiota could also play a role in autism.
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