Gut microbiome and liver diseases

Gut. 2016 Dec;65(12):2035-2044. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-312729. Epub 2016 Oct 8.


The gut microbiota has recently evolved as a new important player in the pathophysiology of many intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. The liver is the organ which is in closest contact with the intestinal tract, and is exposed to a substantial amount of bacterial components and metabolites. Various liver disorders such as alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic liver disease and primary sclerosing cholangitis have been associated with an altered microbiome. This dysbiosis may influence the degree of hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis through multiple interactions with the host's immune system and other cell types. Whereas few results from clinical metagenomic studies in liver disease are available, evidence is accumulating that in liver cirrhosis an oral microbiome is overrepresented in the lower intestinal tract, potentially contributing to disease process and severity. A major role for the gut microbiota in liver disorders is also supported by the accumulating evidence that several complications of severe liver disease such as hepatic encephalopathy are efficiently treated by various prebiotics, probiotics and antibiotics. A better understanding of the gut microbiota and its components in liver diseases might provide a more complete picture of these complex disorders and also form the basis for novel therapies.


Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / metabolism
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / prevention & control
  • Dysbiosis / metabolism
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / prevention & control
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism*
  • Liver Diseases / microbiology
  • Liver Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / prevention & control
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Prebiotics