Glycobiome: Bacteria and mucus at the epithelial interface

J.P. Ouwerkerk, W.M. de Vos, C. Belzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


The human gastrointestinal tract is colonised with a dense and diverse microbial community, that is an important player in human health and physiology. Close to the epithelial cells the mucosal microbiota is separated from the host with a thin lining of host derived glycans, including the cell surface glycocalyx and the extracellular secreted mucus. The mucosa-associated microbial composition differs from the luminal content and could be particularly important for nutrient exchange, communication with the host, development of the immune system, and resistance against invading pathogens. The mucosa-associated microbiota has adapted to the glycan rich environment by the production of mucus-degrading enzymes and mucus-binding extracellular proteins, and include mucus-degrading specialists such as Akkermansia muciniphila and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. This review is focussed on the host-microbe interactions within the glycan landscape at the epithelial interface and considers the spatial organisation and composition of the mucosa-associated microbiota in health and disease
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-38
JournalBest Practice & Research: Clinical Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • inflammatory-bowel-disease
  • mucosa-associated microbiota
  • human gut microbiota
  • abo blood-group
  • intestinal microbiota
  • human colon
  • in-vivo
  • akkermansia-muciniphila
  • spatial-organization
  • bacteroides-thetaiotaomicron

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