Functional analysis of the relationship between intestinal microbiota and the expression of hepatic genes and pathways during the course of liver regeneration

J Hepatol. 2016 Mar;64(3):641-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2015.09.022. Epub 2016 Jan 12.


Background & aims: The pathways regulating liver regeneration have been extensively studied within the liver. However, the signaling contribution derived from the gut microbiota to liver regeneration is poorly understood.

Methods: Microbiota and expression of hepatic genes in regenerating livers obtained from mice at 0h to 9days post 2/3 partial hepatectomy were temporally profiled to establish their interactive relationships.

Results: Partial hepatectomy led to rapid changes in gut microbiota that was reflected in an increased abundance of Bacteroidetes S24-7 and Rikenellaceae and decreased abundance of Firmicutes Clostridiales, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae. Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) was used to infer biological functional changes of the shifted microbiota. RNA-sequencing data revealed 6125 genes with more than a 2-fold difference in their expression levels during regeneration. By analyzing their expression pattern, six uniquely expressed patterns were observed. In addition, there were significant correlations between hepatic gene expression profiles and shifted bacterial populations during regeneration. Moreover, hepatic metabolism and immune function were closely associated with the abundance of Ruminococcacea, Lachnospiraceae, and S24-7. Bile acid profile was analyzed because bacterial enzymes produce bile acids that significantly impact hepatocyte proliferation. The data revealed that specific bacteria were closely associated with the concentration of certain bile acids and expression of hepatic genes.

Conclusions: The presented data established, for the first time, an intimate relationship between intestinal microbiota and the expression of hepatic genes in regenerating livers.

Keywords: Bile acid; Gut-liver axis; Immune response; Metabolism; Partial hepatectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver Regeneration*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Transcriptome


  • Bile Acids and Salts