Saturday, 2 November 2019

Alcohol-producing gut bacteria could cause liver damage even in people who don't drink



Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the build-up of fat in the liver due to factors other than alcohol. It affects about a quarter of the adult population globally, but its cause remains unknown. Now, researchers have linked NAFLD to gut bacteria that produce a large amount of alcohol in the body, finding these bacteria in over 60% of non-alcoholic fatty liver patients.

Researchers discovered the link between gut bacteria and NAFLD when they encountered a patient with severe liver damage and a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome (ABS). Patients with ABS would become drunk after eating alcohol-free and high-sugar food. The condition has been associated with yeast infection, which can produce alcohol in the gut and lead to intoxication.

By analyzing the patient's feces, the team found he had several strains of the bacteria Klebsiella pneumonia in his gut that produced high levels of alcohol. K. pneumonia is a common type of commensal gut bacteria. Yet, the strains isolated from the patient's gut can generate about four to six times more alcohol than strains found in healthy people.

Moreover, the team sampled the gut microbiota from 43 NAFLD patients and 48 healthy people. They found about 60% of NAFLD patients had high- and medium-alcohol-producing K. pneumonia in their gut, while only 6% of healthy controls carry these strains.

To investigate if K. pneumonia would cause fatty liver, researchers fed germ-free mice with high-alcohol-producing K. pneumonia isolated from the ABS patient for 3 months. These mice started to develop fatty liver after the first month. By 2 months, their livers showed signs of scarring, which means long-term liver damage had been made. The progression of liver disease in these mice was comparable to that of mice fed with alcohol. When the team gave bacteria-fed mice with an antibiotic that killed K. pneumonia, their condition was reversed.


Their findings could help develop a screening method for early diagnosis and treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver.

See:

Jing Yuan, Chen Chen, Jinghua Cui, et al. Fatty Liver Disease Caused by High-Alcohol-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae. Cell Metabolism, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.08.018

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources

Special offers