Associations of the microbiome and esophageal disease
The incidence of esophageal diseases such as esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have been increasing over the last 40 years. The esophageal microbiome appears to have a role in the development of some disease processes, and could also serve as markers of early diseases of the esophagus. A literature review was performed examining the role of the microbiome in the development of esophageal disease. In addition, the results of several studies and experiments were included in the review. Both EAC and GERD have increased in incidence over the last 40 years. Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a risk factor for EAC. Patients with BE appear to have a microbiome expression pattern distinct from patients without BE. The distinct pattern may be related to factors within the distal esophagus such as a more acidic environment, intraluminal stasis and other elements. It remains unclear whether the change in microflora leads to esophageal disease, or whether the disease process within the esophagus allows these particular organisms to experience overgrowth compared to other microflora. Patient factors such as body mass index (BMI), diet and geographic location also appear to affect the esophageal microbiome. There is an association with the esophageal microbiome and several esophageal diseases. Future studies should examine these correlations more closely. The distinct patterns may be able to serve as a marker of early disease, and possibly lead to a mechanism for the development of esophageal disease.