The gastrointestinal tract is a highly dynamic ecosystem where interaction of the microbiota with the host mucosa plays an important role. Thus, it not only functions to digest food and absorb nutrients; it is also the major site where communication between microbes, and also between microbiota and their host takes place.

Probiotics and prebiotics offer dietary means to support the balance of intestinal microbiota. They may be used to counteract local immunological dysfunctions, to stabilize the gut mucosal barrier function, to prevent infectious succession of pathogenic microorganisms or to influence intestinal metabolism. However, many of the proposed mechanisms still need to be validated in human clinical trials (67). Future research on commensal microbiota interactions with mucosal surfaces of the host should focus on the cross-talk and determining the signaling mechanisms involved.

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