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International Journal of Inflammation
Volume 2010, Article ID 954051, 9 pages
Review Article

The Bowel Microbiota and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

Received 29 April 2010; Accepted 4 July 2010

Academic Editor: Gerhard Rogler

Copyright © 2010 Gerald W. Tannock. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The human bowel contains a large and biodiverse bacterial community known as the microbiota or microbiome. It seems likely that the microbiota, fractions of the microbiota, or specific species comprising the microbiota provide the antigenic fuel that drives the chronic immune inflammation of the bowel mucosa that is characteristic of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. At least twenty years of microbiological research have been expended on analysis of the composition of the bowel microbiota of inflammatory bowel disease patients in comparison to that of control subjects. Despite extensive speculations about the aetiological role of dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel diseases, knowledge that can be easily translated into effective remedies for patients has not eventuated. The causes of this failure may be due to poorly defined and executed bacteriological studies, as well as the overwhelming complexity of a biome that contains hundreds of bacterial species and trillions of bacterial cells.