Bidirectional Communication between Liver and Gut during Alcoholic Liver Disease

Semin Liver Dis. 2016 Sep;36(4):331-339. doi: 10.1055/s-0036-1593882. Epub 2016 Dec 20.


Alcoholic liver disease is a major medical burden. Alcohol abuse is the cause for end-stage liver disease in approximately 50% of all patients with cirrhosis. Chronic alcohol consumption is associated with changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota and gut barrier dysfunction. The portal vein is the major communication route between the intestine and the liver. Increased intestinal permeability allows microbial components, bacteria, and metabolites to translocate to the liver. The liver communicates with the intestine via mediators in the systemic circulation and the biliary system. In this review, the authors describe the changes that occur in the intestinal microbiota with chronic alcohol consumption. They further review the bilateral communication between the liver and the gut, and discuss how this interaction affects the progression of alcoholic liver disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / microbiology
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Translocation*
  • End Stage Liver Disease / complications
  • End Stage Liver Disease / microbiology*
  • End Stage Liver Disease / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Liver / microbiology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / microbiology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / therapy
  • Portal Vein