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Gut microbiota: implications for sports and exercise medicine
  1. Owen Cronin1,2,
  2. Orla O'Sullivan2,3,
  3. Wiley Barton1,2,3,
  4. Paul D Cotter2,3,
  5. Michael G Molloy1,2,
  6. Fergus Shanahan1,2
  1. 1Department of Medicine, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Cork, Ireland
  3. 3Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Owen Cronin, Department of Medicine, Clinical Sciences Building, Cork University Hospital, Cork T12 DC4A, Ireland; owen.cronin{at}

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Introducing the gut microbiota

Technological progress in high-throughput sequencing and advanced bioinformatic techniques, have facilitated a deeper understanding of the gut microbial influence on human health. Collectively known as the gut microbiota, the trillions of microbes including bacteria, viruses and fungi, which reside within the gut, are now recognised as significant contributors to human (host) health. Patients with non-communicable diseases such as metabolic syndrome, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, demonstrate distinct microbial alterations. This has prompted vigorous pursuit of the mechanisms by which this microbial ‘organ’ influences host health. This branch of medicine has already revealed exciting avenues for disease treatment, from the discovery of novel antibiotics to the treatment of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.1

The scale and spectrum of microbial influence is substantial and elegant studies have linked the presence or absence of specific microbes with immunity,2 neurodevelopment and even behavioural disturbances.3 The potential impact of microbiome science extends to the specialties of Sports Medicine and particularly to Exercise Medicine.

Exercising your microbiota

The development of a mature enteric microbiota is subject to modifiable and non-modifiable factors, including diet and host genetics.4 The gut microbiota is perturbed by …

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  • Contributors OC, FS and MGM outlined the content of the article. OC constructed the original manuscript. OOS, MGM, WB, PC and FS edited the manuscript for completion.

  • Funding OC is funded by the Irish Centre for Arthritis Research and Education (ICARE). FS is director of the APC Microbiome Institute, a research centre funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) (APC/SFI/12/RC/2273) and which is/has recently been in receipt of research grants from Abbvie, Alimentary Health, Cremo, Danone, Janssen, Friesland Campina, General Mills, Kerry, MeadJohnson, Nutricia, 4D pharma and Second Genome, Sigmoid pharma. Research in the Cotter laboratory is funded by SFI through the PI award, ‘Obesibiotics’ (11/PI/1137). Orla O'Sullivan and Wiley Barton are funded by Science Foundation Ireland through a Starting Investigator Research Grant award (13/SIRG/2160).

  • Competing interests FS is a founder shareholder in Atlantia Food Clinical Trials, Tucana Health and Alimentary Health.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.