Drug-microbiota interactions and treatment response: Relevance to rheumatoid arthritis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


Knowledge about associations between changes in the structure and/or function of intestinal microbes (the microbiota) and the pathogenesis of various diseases is expanding. However, interactions between the intestinal microbiota and different pharmaceuticals and the impact of these on responses to treatment are less well studied. Several mechanisms are known by which drug-microbiota interactions can influence drug bioavailability, efficacy, and/or toxicity. This includes direct activation or inactivation of drugs by microbial enzymes which can enhance or reduce drug effectiveness. The extensive metabolic capabilities of the intestinal microbiota make it a hotspot for drug modification. However, drugs can also influence the microbiota profoundly and change the outcome of interactions with the host. Additionally, individual microbiota signatures are unique, leading to substantial variation in host responses to particular drugs. In this review, we describe several known and emerging examples of how drug-microbiota interactions influence the responses of patients to treatment for various diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Focussing on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints which has been linked with microbial dysbiosis, we propose mechanisms by which the intestinal microbiota may affect responses to treatment with methotrexate which are highly variable. Furthering our knowledge of this subject will eventually lead to the adoption of new treatment strategies incorporating microbiota signatures to predict or improve treatment outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-654
Number of pages13
JournalAIMS Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2018

Cite this