The gut-liver axis: impact of a mouse model of small-bowel bacterial overgrowth

J Surg Res. 2018 Jan:221:246-256. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.08.049. Epub 2017 Sep 30.


Background: The mechanisms by which intestinal bacteria impact liver diseases remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to develop a mouse model of small-bowel bacterial overgrowth and to determine its impact on hepatobiliary injury.

Materials and methods: A jejunal self-filling blind loop (SFBL) was created in C57BL/6 mice. Three weeks after surgery, the mice were euthanized, and bacterial cultures of luminal content of the loop and extraintestinal tissues were performed. Liver and jejunum were collected for histological grading of inflammation and injury. Serum liver biochemistry assays were performed. Hepatobiliary transporter mRNA expression in liver was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Bile and blood were collected for measurement of total bile acids, phospholipid, and cholesterol. Mice undergoing jejunal transection and reanastomosis and laparotomy only served as control groups.

Results: SFBL induced a dramatic increase in intraluminal bacterial counts, mesenteric lymph node bacterial translocation, and evidence of jejunal and hepatobiliary injury. Significant reductions in hepatic expression of hepatobiliary transporters involved in biliary canalicular export and basolateral uptake were observed in SFBL mice. SFBL resulted in a significant increase in biliary total bile acid concentration, decreases in bile phospholipid and cholesterol output, and an increase in the bile acid/phospholipid ratio.

Conclusions: We have developed a reproducible mouse model of small-bowel bacterial overgrowth with evidence of liver inflammation, altered hepatobiliary transporter expression, and alterations in bile composition. This model may help to elucidate the mechanisms by which gut-derived bacterial factors impact the liver and contribute to the exacerbation of liver diseases and biliary injury.

Keywords: Bacterial translocation; Bile composition; Gut-derived factors; Liver injury; Self-filling blind loop; Small-bowel bacterial overgrowth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Translocation*
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / complications*
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Jejunal Diseases / complications*
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL


  • Membrane Transport Proteins