The role of microbiota in neonatal hyperbilirubinemia

Am J Transl Res. 2020 Nov 15;12(11):7459-7474. eCollection 2020.


Hyperbilirubinemia accounts for about 60% of full-term and 80% of preterm neonates globally, which is characterized by physiologically elevated unconjugated bilirubin in serum, but abnormally high levels of bilirubin have potential neurotoxic effects. Several factors contribute to the development of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, including isoimmunization, dysregulated gut flora, genetic alteration and environmental factors. Animal studies have pinpointed the causal roles of several bacteria in bilirubin metabolism. Human studies have revealed microbiota composition in hyperbilirubinemia and found that gut microbiota affect newborns with different severity of hyperbilirubinemia. However, dysbiosis and subsequent changes in microbiota-related metabolic processes are not always considered. This review aims to describe the critical microbiota signatures for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and focus on the underlying pathogenetic mechanism. These scientific bases give a new and accurate therapeutic strategy for the application of gut microbiota.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; bilirubin encephalopathy; bilirubin metabolism; neonatal hyperbilirubinemia; prebiotics; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review