Background & aims: Dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota has been associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We investigated whether administration of a synbiotic combination of probiotic and prebiotic agents affected liver fat content, biomarkers of liver fibrosis, and the composition of the fecal microbiome in patients with NAFLD.
Methods: We performed a double-blind phase 2 trial of 104 patients with NAFLD in the United Kingdom. Participants (mean age, 50.8 ± 12.6 years; 65% men; 37% with diabetes) were randomly assigned to groups given the synbiotic agents (fructo-oligosaccharides, 4 g twice per day, plus Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis BB-12; n = 55) or placebo (n = 49) for 10-14 months. Liver fat content was measured at the start and end of the study by magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and liver fibrosis was determined from a validated biomarker scoring system and vibration-controlled transient elastography. Fecal samples were collected at the start and end of the study, the fecal microbiome were analyzed by 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing.
Results: Mean baseline and end-of-study magnetic resonance spectroscopy liver fat percentage values were 32.3% ± 24.8% and 28.5% ± 20.1% in the synbiotic group and 31.3% ± 22% and 25.2% ± 17.2% in the placebo group. In the unadjusted intention-to-treat analysis, we found no significant difference in liver fat reduction between groups (β = 2.8; 95% confidence interval, -2.2 to 7.8; P = .30). In a fully adjusted regression model (adjusted for baseline measurement of the outcome plus age, sex, weight difference, and baseline weight), only weight loss was associated with a significant decrease in liver fat (β = 2; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-2.6; P = .03). Fecal samples from patients who received the synbiotic had higher proportions of Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium species, and reductions in Oscillibacter and Alistipes species, compared with baseline; these changes were not observed in the placebo group. Changes in the composition of fecal microbiota were not associated with liver fat or markers of fibrosis.
Conclusions: In a randomized trial of patients with NAFLD, 1 year of administration of a synbiotic combination (probiotic and prebiotic) altered the fecal microbiome but did not reduce liver fat content or markers of liver fibrosis. (ClinicalTrials.gov, Number: NCT01680640).
Keywords: Cardiovascular Disease; INSYTE Study; Nutrition; Type 2 Diabetes.
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