The esophageal microbiota in health and disease

Vincenzo Di Pilato, Giancarlo Freschi, Maria Novella Ringressi, Lucia Pallecchi, Gian Maria Rossolini, Paolo Bechi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The esophageal mucosa is among the sites colonized by human microbiota, the complex microbial ecosystem that colonizes various body surfaces and is increasingly recognized to play roles in several physiological and pathological processes. Our understanding of the composition of the esophageal microbiota in health and disease is challenged by the need for invasive sampling procedures and by the dynamic nature of the esophageal environment and remains limited in comparison with the information available for other body sites. Members of the genus Streptococcus appear to be the major components of the microbiota of the healthy esophagus, although the presence of several other taxa has also been reported. Dysbiosis, consisting of enrichment in some Gram-negative taxa (including Veillonella, Prevotella, Haemophilus, Neisseria, Campylobacter, and Fusobacterium), has been reported in association with gastroesophageal reflux disease and is hypothesized to contribute to the evolution of this condition toward Barrett's esophagus (which is the most common esophageal precancerous lesion) and, eventually, adenocarcinoma. Some Campylobacter species (mostly C. concisus) are also putatively involved in the progression of disease toward adenocarcinoma. However, variable findings have recently been reported in additional studies. Causative relationships between dysbiosis or specific bacterial species and esophageal diseases remain controversial and warrant further investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Barrett's esophagus
  • esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • esophageal diseases
  • esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
  • esophagitis
  • microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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