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- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,
The Human Microbiome in the Fight against Tuberculosis
The human microbiome is an intriguing potentially modifiable risk factor in our arsenal against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the leading infectious disease killer globally. Previous studies have shown associations between the human microbiome and pulmonary disease states; however, etiological links between the microbiome and tuberculosis (TB) infection or disease remain unclear. Immunomodulatory roles of the microbiome may prove to be a critical asset in the host response against TB, including in preventing TB infection, reducing progression from latency, mitigating disease severity, and lowering the incidence of drug resistance and coinfections. This review examined the associations between TB and the gut and lung microbiome. Eight studies were identified through a PubMed database search, including one animal study (N = 1), case report (N = 1), and case–control studies (N = 6). TB infection and disease were associated with reduced gastrointestinal microbial diversity in a murine model and human case report. Sputum microbial diversity differed by TB status in case–control studies, although some reported heterogeneous findings. Current evidence suggests that the gut and lung microbiome are associated with TB infection and disease. However, as studies are limited, etiological and longitudinal research is needed to determine clinical relevance.