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The Microbiome in Rheumatology: Where Are We and Where Should We Go?

Author

Rheum Dis. 2020 Apr 24;annrheumdis-2019-216631.doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216631. Online ahead of print.

Julia Manasson 1, Rebecca B Blank 1, Jose U Scher 2

Author Information

  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
  • 2Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA jose.scher@nyulangone.org.

Abstract

From birth, humans coexist and coevolve with trillions of micro-organisms inhabiting most body surfaces and cavities, referred to as the human microbiome. Advances in sequencing technologies and computational methods have propelled the exploration of the microbiome's contribution to human health and disease, spearheaded by massive efforts such as the Human Microbiome Project and the Europe-based MetaHit Consortium. Yet, despite the accumulated body of literature and a growing awareness among patients, microbiome research in rheumatology has not had a key impact on clinical practice. Herein, we describe some of the landmark microbiome studies in autoimmunity and rheumatology, the challenges and opportunities of microbiome research and how to navigate them, advances in related fields that have overcome these pitfalls, and future directions of harnessing the microbiome for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.