Exploring the role of the microbiota member Bifidobacterium in modulating immune-linked diseases

The gut-associated microbiota is essential for multiple physiological processes, including immune development. Acquisition of our initial pioneer microbial communities, including the dominant early life genus Bifidobacterium, occurs at a critical period of immune maturation and programming. Bifidobacteria are resident microbiota members throughout our lifetime and have been shown to modulate specific immune cells and pathways. Notably, reductions in this genus have been associated with several diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease. In this review, we provide an overview of bifidobacteria profiles throughout life and how different strains of bifidobacteria have been implicated in immune modulation in disease states. The focus will be examining preclinical models and outcomes from clinical trials on immune-linked chronic conditions. Finally, we highlight some of the important unresolved questions in relation to Bifidobacterium mediated immune modulation and implications for future directions, trials, and development of new therapies.