The human gut microbiome constitutes a diverse and dynamic community of microorganisms that inhabit the digestive tract. In recent years, there is growing appreciation for the role of the gut microbiome in host health and disease. Gut bacteria are involved in the pathogenesis of numerous medical conditions in a variety of medical fields including gastroenterology, metabolic, rheumatologic, neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Recently, evidence is mounting that gut bacteria could also play a role in chronic pain and specifically fibromyalgia (FM). The composition of the gut bacterial community is altered in individuals with FM, with an altered abundance of a small subset of bacterial species. Some of these species, either with increased or decreased abundance in patients, have established metabolic activity which could have pertinence in the expression of FM symptoms. The putative mechanisms which could allow these bacterial species to affect pain, fatigue, mood and other symptoms include the entry of short-chain-fatty-acids, bile acids, neurotransmitters and bacterial antigens into the host circulation. While these are merely the first steps in understanding the role of the gut microbiome in chronic pain and specifically FM, one might envision exciting future perspectives for better mechanistic understanding of FM, for the development of objective diagnostic aids and potentially for new therapeutic modalities.
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