Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; Center for Infection and Pathobiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; Cornell Institute of Host-Microbe Interactions and Disease, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
The human intestine harbors an immense, diverse, and critical population of bacteria that has effects on numerous aspects of host physiology, immunity, and disease. Emerging evidence suggests that many of the interactions between the host and the gut microbiota are mediated via the microbial metabolome, or the collection of small-molecule metabolites produced by intestinal bacteria. This review summarizes findings from recent work by focusing on different classes of metabolites produced by the gut microbiota and their effects in modulating host health and disease. These metabolites ultimately serve as a form of communication between the gut microbiome and the host, and a better understanding of this chemical language could potentially lead to novel strategies for treating a wide variety of human disorders.