Fecal microbiota transplantation: a promising strategy in preventing the progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and improving the anti-cancer immune response

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2018 Oct;18(10):1061-1071. doi: 10.1080/14712598.2018.1518424. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


Introduction: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has the potential to progress to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, limited therapies are currently available for the treatment of advanced HCC, and one must strive to search for novel strategies.

Areas covered: We provide insight on current knowledge related to gut microbiota and NAFLD, summarize the sequence linking obesity to HCC and highlight gut dysbiosis in obesity and its consequences on the liver. We detail the impact of the gut microbiota on immune checkpoint inhibitors, and speculate on the role of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) in NAFLD and in improving anti-neoplastic immune response.

Expert opinion: Manipulation of the gut microbiota seems promising in the secondary prevention of NAFLD/NASH and/or in potentiating anti-cancer immune response, notably by a global 'resetting' using FMT. However, the composition of a 'harmful' gut microbiome in HCC still needs to be characterized, and the impact of FMT on HCC growth needs to be assessed.

Keywords: Cancer; checkpoint inhibitors; fecal microbiota transplantation; gut microbiota; hepatocellular carcinoma; immunotherapy; metabolic syndrome; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / microbiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / prevention & control*
  • Disease Progression
  • Dysbiosis / complications
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Dysbiosis / therapy
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation* / methods
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / complications
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / immunology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy*