Saturated and Unsaturated Dietary Fats Differentially Modulate Ethanol-Induced Changes in Gut Microbiome and Metabolome in a Mouse Model of Alcoholic Liver Disease

Am J Pathol. 2016 Apr;186(4):765-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2015.11.017.


Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) ranks among major causes of morbidity and mortality. Diet and crosstalk between the gut and liver are important determinants of ALD. We evaluated the effects of different types of dietary fat and ethanol on the gut microbiota composition and metabolic activity and the effect of these changes on liver injury in ALD. Compared with ethanol and a saturated fat diet (medium chain triglycerides enriched), an unsaturated fat diet (corn oil enriched) exacerbated ethanol-induced endotoxemia, liver steatosis, and injury. Major alterations in gut microbiota, including a reduction in Bacteroidetes and an increase in Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria, were seen in animals fed an unsaturated fat diet and ethanol but not a saturated fat diet and ethanol. Compared with a saturated fat diet and ethanol, an unsaturated fat diet and ethanol caused major fecal metabolomic changes. Moreover, a decrease in certain fecal amino acids was noted in both alcohol-fed groups. These data support an important role of dietary lipids in ALD pathogenesis and provide insight into mechanisms of ALD development. A diet enriched in unsaturated fats enhanced alcohol-induced liver injury and caused major fecal metagenomic and metabolomic changes that may play an etiologic role in observed liver injury. Dietary lipids can potentially serve as inexpensive interventions for the prevention and treatment of ALD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Triglycerides
  • Ethanol