The Esophageal Microbiome in Health and Disease

  • Brooke Corning
  • Andrew P. Copland
  • Jeanetta W. FryeEmail author
Esophagus (J Clarke and N Ahuja, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Esophagus


Purpose of Review

Investigation of the esophageal microbiome is a relatively new field. This review will outline data characterizing the esophageal microbiome in both health and disease states, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal cancer, eosinophilic esophagitis, and motility disorders.

Recent Findings

While the esophagus was previously considered devoid of a significant bacterial population, development of culture-independent techniques, specifically 16S rRNA gene sequencing, as well as novel, minimally invasive microbial sampling modalities, has facilitated characterization of the esophageal microbiome in both health and several disease states. Although limited, there is evidence that the esophagus contains a diverse microbial population, with Gram-positive bacteria, specifically Streptococcus, dominating in health, while Gram-negative bacteria prevail in reflux disorders including GERD and Barrett’s esophagus. The microbiome is altered with other esophageal disorders as well, including eosinophilic esophagitis and esophageal motility disorders, though these changes have been less well characterized.


Characterization of the gut microbiome has advanced significantly; however, further investigation is essential. Understanding changes in the esophageal microbiome could affect our understanding of the natural history of diseases of the esophagus and present potential therapeutic approaches.


Esophageal microbiome GERD Barrett’s esophagus Esophageal cancer Eosinophilic esophagitis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major Importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brooke Corning
    • 1
  • Andrew P. Copland
    • 1
  • Jeanetta W. Frye
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyUniversity of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA

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