Bowel Biofilms: Tipping Points between a Healthy and Compromised Gut?

Hanne L.P. Tytgat*, Franklin L. Nobrega, John van der Oost, Willem M. de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial communities are known to impact human health and disease. Mixed species biofilms, mostly pathogenic in nature, have been observed in dental and gastric infections as well as in intestinal diseases, chronic gut wounds and colon cancer. Apart from the appendix, the presence of thick polymicrobial biofilms in the healthy gut mucosa is still debated. Polymicrobial biofilms containing potential pathogens appear to be an early-warning signal of developing disease and can be regarded as a tipping point between a healthy and a diseased state of the gut mucosa. Key biofilm-forming pathogens and associated molecules hold promise as biomarkers. Criteria to distinguish microcolonies from biofilms are crucial to provide clarity when reporting biofilm-related phenomena in health and disease in the gut.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • biofilm
  • colorectal cancer
  • microbiota
  • tipping points


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