The microbiota and the gut-liver axis in primary sclerosing cholangitis

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Nov 9. doi: 10.1038/s41575-022-00690-y. Online ahead of print.


Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) offers unique opportunities to explore the gut-liver axis owing to the close association between liver disease and colonic inflammation. It is well established that the gut microbiota in people with PSC differs from that of healthy individuals, but details of the microbial factors that demarcate PSC from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) without PSC are poorly understood. In this Review, we aim to provide an overview of the latest literature on the gut microbiome in PSC and PSC with IBD, critically examining hypotheses on how microorganisms could contribute to the pathogenesis of PSC. A particular emphasis will be put on pathogenic features of the gut microbiota that might explain the occurrence of bile duct inflammation and liver disease in the context of IBD, and we postulate the potential existence of a specific yet unknown factor related to the gut-liver axis as causative in PSC. Available data are scrutinized in the perspective of therapeutic approaches related to the gut-liver axis.

Publication types

  • Review