Alcoholic liver disease: hope springs from a bacterium
Researchers have been aware of the influence of the intestinal microbiota on the progression of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) for several years; it seems to be involved in altering the intestinal barrier to facilitate the passage of alcohol. To dig deeper, an Austrian team from the University of Innsbruck wanted to find out the effects of a Gram-negative bacteria - Akkermansia muciniphila - which is known to strengthen the barrier function of the intestine by improving the production of mucus. In the study, they observed the connection between bacterial colonization and alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH), both in an animal model (mice) and in people with and without ASH. The results showed that patients with ASH presented a reduction in the amount of fecal A. muciniphila compared with healthy subjects, and that wild-type mice fed an ethanol-rich diet had a significant decrease in this kind of bacteria. Furthermore, the administration of A. muciniphila reduced steatosis and the infiltration of inflammation-causing neutrophils. These results suggest a benefit of A. muciniphila supplementation in cases of ASH to reduce disease symptoms.
Grander c. et al. Recovery of ethanol-induced Akkermansia muciniphila depletion ameliorates alcoholic liver disease. Gut. 2017 May 26. pii: gutjnl-2016-313432. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28550049