Microbes and the Developing Gastrointestinal Tract
During the course of mammalian evolution, there has been a close relationship between microbes residing in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the mammalian host. Although the host provides the microbes with a warm environment and nutrients, they, in turn, undergo various metabolic processes that aid the host. The host has developed weapons against microbes that are considered foreign, as well as mechanisms to tolerate and live synergistically with most of the microbes in the GI tract. This relationship is proving to be important not only in the neonatal period and during infancy, but it is becoming increasingly evident that microbial colonization in early life may affect the individual's health throughout life. Here we will review this relationship in terms of health and disease, with a focus on the aspects of this relationship during maturation of the host.
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