Background: The gut microbiota plays an important role in the pathogenesis of several gastrointestinal diseases. Its composition and function are shaped by host-microbiota and intra-microbiota interactions. Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that target bacteria and have the potential to modulate bacterial communities. Aims: To summarise phage biology and the clinical applications of phages in gastroenterology. Methods: PubMed was searched to identify relevant studies. Results: Phages induce bacterial cell lysis, integration of viral DNA into the bacteria and/or coexistence in a stable equilibrium. Bacteria and phages have co-evolved and their dynamic interactions are yet to be fully understood. The increasing need to modulate microbial communities (e.g., gut microbiota, multidrug-resistant bacteria) has been a strong stimulus for research in phages as an antibacterial therapy. In gastroenterology, phage therapy has been mainly studied in infectious diseases such as cholera. However, it is currently being explored in several other circumstances such as treating Clostridioides difficile colitis, targeting adherent-invasive Escherichia coli in Crohn's disease or eradicating Fusobacterium nucleatum in colorectal cancer. Overall, phage therapy has a favourable and acceptable safety profile. Presently, trials with phage therapy are ongoing in Crohn's disease. Conclusions: Phage therapy is a promising therapeutic tool against pathogenic bacteria in the fields of infectious diseases and gastroenterology. Randomised, placebo-controlled trials with phage therapy for gastroenterological diseases are ongoing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


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