Western diets high in fats and sugars, modern lifestyles with stress and sedentarism and the indiscriminate use of antibiotics together with other frequently prescribed drugs -such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and proton pump inhibitors- are major drivers of changes in microbiota composition and gut barrier disruption. (Dr. Maria Rescigno)

Many disorders are associated with impaired function of the gut barrier. The gut microbiota regulates gut barrier function, and previous research has shown that modulation of gut microbiota shows promise for enhancing barrier integrity.

Lora Hooper is a professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas), and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her lab studies immune mechanisms that prevent bacteria from crossing intestinal barriers and entering host tissues.

Dr. Yasmine Belkaid of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), is chief of the Mucosal Immunology section and co-director of the trans-NIH metaorganisms initiative. Her work explores mechanisms at barrier sites (i.e.