Background and aims: Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has multifactorial etiopathogenesis, and intestinal microbiota is co-responsible in this process. The aim of this study was to evaluate the intestinal microbiota in NASH patients with different metabolic profiles.
Methods: Patients with biopsy-proven NASH were evaluated. Subjects were divided into two groups according to their metabolic profile, with or without metabolic syndrome (MS). Their characteristics in relation to liver disease and intestinal microbiota were analyzed. To evaluate the microbiota, breath tests to investigate small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and fecal microbiota analysis by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) were performed.
Results: There was a high prevalence of SIBO in both groups, with no significant difference between them. Breathing tests were positive in 43.8% of patients with MS and 50% of those without MS. There was a significant difference regarding the quantification of Verrucomicrobiales, less abundant in patients with NASH without MS. Its lower concentration also correlated with higher serum ferritin levels and higher hepatocyte ballooning. This order of bacteria, through its representative in human microbiota, Akkermansia muciniphila, is associated with mucosal protection and metabolic processes with liver aggression.
Conclusions: Our results suggested that lower Verrucomicrobiales concentration is associated with higher inflammatory activity in patients with NASH without MS, where the disease etiopathogenesis does not have its classic metabolic substrate.