Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
. 2015;37(2):223-36.

The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota

Affiliations
Free PMC article
Review

The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota

Phillip A Engen et al. Alcohol Res. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The excessive use of alcohol is a global problem causing many adverse pathological health effects and a significant financial health care burden. This review addresses the effect of alcohol consumption on the microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Although data are limited in humans, studies highlight the importance of changes in the intestinal microbiota in alcohol-related disorders. Alcohol-induced changes in the GIT microbiota composition and metabolic function may contribute to the well-established link between alcohol-induced oxidative stress, intestinal hyperpermeability to luminal bacterial products, and the subsequent development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), as well as other diseases. In addition, clinical and preclinical data suggest that alcohol-related disorders are associated with quantitative and qualitative dysbiotic changes in the intestinal microbiota and may be associated with increased GIT inflammation, intestinal hyperpermeability resulting in endotoxemia, systemic inflammation, and tissue damage/organ pathologies including ALD. Thus, gut-directed interventions, such as probiotic and synbiotic modulation of the intestinal microbiota, should be considered and evaluated for prevention and treatment of alcohol-associated pathologies.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Disruption of intestinal microbiota homeostasis (dysbiosis) has been associated with these diseases (shown above). In addition, dysbiosis can be caused by environmental factors commonly encountered in Western societies, including diet, genetics, disruption of circadian rhythms, and alcoholic beverage consumption. Dysbiosis also can be prevented or treated with probiotics and prebiotics.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Basic pipeline for amplicon-based and shotgun sequencing approaches to the interrogation of GIT microbial communities. Nucleic acids can be interrogated independently to characterize the community structure and gene content of total (DNA) and active (RNA) microbial communities or combined to examine how shifts in microbiota are correlated with changes in community gene expression patterns.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Alcohol-induced imbalances in the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract (dysbiosis) have been associated with promoting potentially pathogenic changes in bacteria in alcoholics with and without liver disease and in patients with cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B or alcohol. Both alcoholic and cirrhosis patients demonstrate similar dysbiotic microbiota changes, except for the bacteria indicated, suggesting that these dysbiotic bacterial differences could contribute to liver disease or may be a biomarker indicating liver disease. Using synbiotics and prebiotics to treat Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy patients with cirrhosis, significantly improved their GIT microbiota, suggesting that the same treatment may benefit patients with alcohol-induced dysbiosis.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 52 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Bahl MI, Bergstrom A, Licht TR. Freezing fecal samples prior to DNA extraction affects the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio determined by downstream quantitative PCR analysis. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 2012;329(2):193–197. - PubMed
    1. Caporaso JG, Kuczynski J, Stombaugh J, et al. QIIME allows analysis of high-throughput community sequencing data. Nature Methods. 2010;7(5):335–336. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Cho I, Blaser MJ. The human microbiome: At the interface of health and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2012;13(4):260–270. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Claassen S, du Toit E, Kaba M, et al. A comparison of the efficiency of five different commercial DNA extraction kits for extraction of DNA from faecal samples. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 2013;94(2):103–110. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Cole JR, Chai B, Farris RJ, et al. The Ribosomal Database Project (RDP-II): Sequences and tools for high-throughput rRNA analysis. Nucleic Acids Research. 2005;33:D294–D296. - PMC - PubMed

MeSH terms

Feedback