Update on the Gastrointestinal Microbiome in Systemic Sclerosis

  • Chiara Bellocchi
  • Elizabeth R. Volkmann
Scleroderma (J Varga, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Scleroderma


Purpose of Review

Accumulating evidence suggests that gut microbiota affect the development and function of the immune system and may play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent studies reporting gastrointestinal microbiota aberrations associated with the systemic sclerosis disease state.

Recent Findings

The studies described herein have identified common changes in gut microbial composition. Specifically, patients with SSc have decreased abundance of beneficial commensal genera (e.g., Faecalibacterium, Clostridium, and Bacteroides) and increased abundance of pathobiont genera (e.g., Fusobacterium, Prevotella, Erwinia). In addition, some studies have linked specific genera with the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms in systemic sclerosis.


More research is needed to further characterize the gastrointestinal microbiota in systemic sclerosis and understand how microbiota perturbations can affect inflammation, fibrosis, and clinical outcomes. Interventional studies aimed at addressing/correcting these perturbations, either through dietary modification, pro/pre-biotic supplementation, or fecal transplantation, may lead to improved outcomes for patients with systemic sclerosis.


Systemic sclerosis Microbiota Gastrointestinal involvement Immune system 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major Importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scleroderma Unit, Referral Center for Systemic Autoimmune Diseases, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico di MilanoUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  2. 2.Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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