The clinical significance of the gut microbiota in cystic fibrosis and the potential for dietary therapies

Li Li, Shawn Somerset

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterised by many comorbidities related to aberrant mucosa and chronic inflammation in the respiratory and digestive systems. The intestinal mucosa serves as the primary interface between the gut microbiota and endocrine, neural and immune systems. There is emerging evidence that aberrant intestinal mucosa in CF may associate with an altered gut microbiota. Compared to healthy subjects, the overall bacterial abundance and species richness seems to be reduced in CF, accompanied by a trend in suppression of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes spp. and an augmentation of potentially pathogenic species. There is also some concordance of gut and respiratory microbiotas in CF infants over time. The clinical significance of these observations awaits investigation. The gut microbiota have some potential in CF management by affecting inflammatory and immune responses, and influencing aberrant mucosa. As an important modifiable factor, diet therapies such as probiotics and prebiotics have shown initial promise in improving CF related conditions associated with chronic inflammation. More studies are needed to confirm this, as well as the efficacy of other dietary strategies such as modulating dietary fat and indigestible carbohydrate. Similarly, dietary modification of gut microbiota to optimise nutritional status in CF may be feasible, although more CF-specific studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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