Urbanization and the gut microbiota in health and inflammatory bowel disease

Tao Zuo, Michael A. Kamm, Jean Frédéric Colombel, Siew C. Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


In the 21st century, urbanization represents a major demographic shift in developed and developing countries. Rapid urbanization in the developing world has been associated with an increasing incidence of several autoimmune diseases, including IBD. Patients with IBD exhibit a decrease in the diversity and richness of the gut microbiota, while urbanization attenuates the gut microbial diversity and might have a role in the pathogenesis of IBD. Environmental exposures during urbanization, including Westernization of diet, increased antibiotic use, pollution, improved hygiene status and early-life microbial exposure, have been shown to affect the gut microbiota. The disparate patterns of the gut microbiota composition in rural and urban areas offer an opportunity to understand the contribution of a 'rural microbiome' in potentially protecting against the development of IBD. This Perspective discusses the effect of urbanization and its surrogates on the gut microbiome (bacteriome, virome, mycobiome and helminths) in both human health and IBD and how such changes might be associated with the development of IBD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-452
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018


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