Nutrition, intestinal permeability, and blood ethanol levels are altered in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Dig Dis Sci. 2012 Jul;57(7):1932-41. doi: 10.1007/s10620-012-2112-9. Epub 2012 Mar 17.


Background: A role of an altered dietary pattern (e.g., a diet rich in sugar) but also alterations at the level of the intestinal barrier have repeatedly been discussed to be involved in the development and progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Aims: To determine if the nutritional intake, intestinal flora, and permeability and the development of NAFLD are related in humans.

Methods: Ten controls and 20 patients with NAFLD ranging from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis were included in the study. Bacterial overgrowth, orocecal transit time, and intestinal permeability were assessed. Alcohol, endotoxin, and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-) 1 concentration were determined in plasma. Nutritional intake was assessed using a dietary history.

Results: Despite no differences in the prevalence of bacterial overgrowth and in the orocecal transit time, intestinal permeability, alcohol, and endotoxin levels in plasma were significantly higher in patients with NAFLD than in controls. Similar results were also found for PAI-1 plasma concentrations. Patients with NAFLD had a significantly higher intake of protein, total carbohydrates, and mono- as well as disaccharides than controls. PAI-1, endotoxin, and ALT plasma levels were positively related to total protein and carbohydrate intake.

Conclusions: Taken together, our results indicate that intestinal permeability, endogenous alcohol synthesis, and nutritional intake are markedly altered in patients with NAFLD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endotoxins / blood
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Fatty Liver / blood*
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Male
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Nutritional Status / physiology*
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / blood


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Endotoxins
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Ethanol