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Commensal microflora play many roles within the mammalian gastrointestinal tract (GIT) that benefit host physiology by way of direct or indirect interactions with mucosal surfaces. Commensal flora comprises members across all microbial phyla, although predominantly bacterial, with population dynamics varying with host species, genotype, and environmental factors. Little is known, however, about the complex mechanisms regulating host-commensal interactions that underlie this mutually beneficial relationship and how alterations in the microbiome may influence host development and susceptibility to infection. Research into the gut microbiome has intensified as it becomes increasingly evident that symbiont-host interactions have a significant impact on mucosal immunity and health. Furthermore, evidence that microbial populations vary significantly throughout the GIT suggest that regional differences in the microbiome may also influence immune function within distinct compartments of the GIT. Postpartum colonization of the GIT has been shown to have a direct effect on mucosal immune system development, but information is limited regarding regional effects of the microbiome on the development, activation, and maturation of the mucosal immune system. This review discusses factors influencing the colonization and establishment of the microbiome throughout the GIT of newborn calves and the evidence that regional differences in the microbiome influence mucosal immune system development and maturation. The implications of this complex interaction are also discussed in terms of possible effects on responses to enteric pathogens and vaccines.


Ryan Taschuk, Philip J Griebel. Commensal microbiome effects on mucosal immune system development in the ruminant gastrointestinal tract. Animal health research reviews / Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases. 2012 Jun;13(1):129-41

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PMID: 22853940

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