In recent years, close links between intestinal microbiota and host metabolism have been recognized. Intestinal bacteria can participate in the extraction of calories from food, and circulation of bacterial products, in particular lipopolysaccharides (LPS), is responsible for the "metabolic endotoxemia", which contributes to insulin resistance and its complications, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Indeed, qualitative and quantitative intestinal dysbiotic changes have been clearly documented in NAFLD patients, and several mechanisms by which the intestinal microbiota can directly promote liver fat deposition, inflammation and fibrosis have also been described. Consistently, although with some differences concerning type and proportion of results, experimental and clinical studies are quite concordant in demonstrating beneficial effects of probiotic and/or prebiotic therapy in NAFLD. Although some physiopathological bases have been produced, major doubts still remain concerning how and when to intervene. Indeed, most of the available works were performed with mixtures of probiotics and/or prebiotics, and a baseline assessment of dysbiosis aimed at selecting the best candidates for treatment and predicting response has not been performed in any of the clinical studies in NAFLD. While future research is expected to solve these issues, the particularly favorable safety profile suggests that probiotic/prebiotic therapy could already be "tested" in NAFLD patients on an individual basis, at least once all the measures recommended by the latest guidelines have failed.
Keywords: dysbiosis; intestinal microbiota; lipopolysaccharide binding protein; lipopolysaccharides; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; prebiotics; probiotics; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.