The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet

Posted April 21, 2020

By now, it’s a familiar fact: Humans have more bacterial cells — a lot more — than human cells. Bacteria live on the skin, in the nose and ears, and, most of all, in the gut.

Until recently, if most people thought about those bacteria at all, we tended to think of them as fairly separate from us. They help with digestion, but otherwise they stay on their side of the intestinal lining, and we stay on our side. But, in fact, there is a lot of interaction between the body’s immune system and bacteria in the gut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins are now in the early stages of figuring out how the composition of the gut changes in different diseases, how the body’s immune system interacts with these tiny hitchhikers and particularly how that relationship may function in disease.

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