The human gastrointestinal tract contains 10-100 trillion bacteria and approximately 100-1000 different bacterial species. These microorganisms have critical functions in multiple aspects of human physiology such as regulation of metabolic processes, education of the immune system and promotion of epithelial cell responses that are essential to maintain mutualism. The intestinal microflora differs quantitatively and qualitatively among species and individuals. Life style, age, dietary habits, exposure to antibiotics and host genotype play essential roles in the composition of the intestinal microflora; moreover, disruption of the delicate balance that represents the ecosystem of bacterial communities of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to severe metabolic and inflammatory pathologies.
We are studying how the intestinal microbiota interacts with the immune system and how it regulates the function of metabolic organs (i.e liver). In particular, we are interested in how metabolic processes of the microbiota impact mammalian physiology.