Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects 20–30% of the population, with an increased prevalence in industrialized regions. Some patients with NAFLD develop an inflammatory condition termed non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) that is characterized by hepatocellular injury, innate immune cell-mediated inflammation, and progressive liver fibrosis. In clinical practice, abdominal imaging, which reveals hepatic steatosis, is sufficient for NAFLD diagnosis if other diseases have been rejected. However, a liver biopsy is needed to differentiate NASH from simple steatosis. Therapeutic strategies used to treat obesity and metabolic syndrome improve NAFLD, but there is no specific treatment effective for NASH. The gut microbiota (GM) is composed of millions of microorganisms. Changes in the GM have a significant impact on host health. Intestinal dysbiosis is an imbalance in the GM that can induce increased permeability of the epithelial barrier, with migration of GM-derived mediators through portal vein to the liver. These mediators, such as lipopolysaccharides, short-chain fatty acids, bile acids (BAs), choline, and endogenous ethanol, seem to be involved in NAFLD pathogenesis. Given this evidence, it would be interesting to consider GM-derived mediator determination through omics techniques as a noninvasive diagnostic tool for NASH and to focus research on microbiota modulation as a possible treatment for NASH.
Part of the book: Human Microbiome