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Shocking New Role Found for the Immune System: Controlling Social Interactions

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The immune system is connected to the microbiome?

So they're interconnected. 


What are the roles of all of the microbes and microbial genes in our bodies? The microbes benefit from a stable habitat—rich in energy sources from the food we ingest—and we in turn claim heat energy from otherwise indigestible compounds such as cellulose. But the interaction between the microbes and their human host is far reaching. The microbiota present at each body site affects numerous biological functions important for maintaining health, whereas the alteration of the microbiota components (dysbiosis) can contribute to disease development. 
Given the complexity of the human microbiome, identifying and/or interpreting dysbiosis is not trivial. The study of the microbiome is a rapidly evolving area of interest, and a great deal of effort has been invested in understanding the microbial makeup of a healthy individual, that is, to determining what types of microbes are present, and finding out what are they doing. The International Human Microbiome Consortium (IHMC) was constituted in 2005 in order to begin to understand how microbes influence human health and disease [5]. 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) joined this international effort by launching the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), an initiative of the NIH Roadmap for Biomedical Research ( to examine the normal microbial composition in 4 body sites: the gastrointestinal tract, the mouth, the vagina, and the skin [5,6]. The goals of the HMP are three-fold: 1) to characterize the human microbiome from normal volunteers by using high-throughput technologies; 2) to study several different conditions to determine whether there are associations between changes in the microbiome and health/disease; and 3) to provide a standardized data resource and new technological approaches that can be used by the scientific community. All of the data generated from this effort have been used to define a core microbiome at each body site, denoting the existence of highly specialized niches and interactions between the microbiome and the human tissues [7,8]. 
An obvious interaction is that of the microbiota with the components of the immune system, both innate and adaptive. The immune system refers to the tissues, cells, and molecules that protect the body against infectious agents. What then determines which microbiota colonizes a particular body site and, in turn, how the microorganisms making up the microbiota help shape our immune system? 

So there are many connections between the microbiome and tissues.

Wow, we really are just transportation vessels for microbiota. 

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