Public Release:  Gut microbiota transplantation may prevent development of diabetes and fatty liver disease

European Association for the Study of the Liver

Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 19 April 2012: Exciting new data presented today at the International Liver Congress™ 2012 shows the gut microbiota's causal role in the development of diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), independent of obesity.(1) Though an early stage animal model, the French study highlights the possibility of preventing diabetes and NAFLD with gut microbiota transplantation - the engrafting of new microbiota, usually through administering faecal material from a healthy donor into the colon of a diseased recipient.(2)

In the 16 week study, two groups of germ free mice received gut microbiota transplants; one set from donor mice displaying symptoms of insulin resistance and liver steatosis (responders), the other from normal mice (non responders). The donor mice were selected due to their response to being fed a high fat diet.

The germ free group that received microbiota from symptomatic mice (responder receivers - RR) showed higher levels of fat concentration in the liver as well as being insulin resistant. The germ free group that received microbiota from healthy mice (non-responder-receivers - NRR) maintained normal glucose levels and sensitivity to insulin.

EASL Scientific Committee Member Dr Frank Lammert said: "The factors leading to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) are poorly understood, but it is known that NAFLD and Type 2 diabetes are characterised, respectively, by liver inflammation and metabolic disorders like insulin resistance."

"This study shows that different microbiota cause different metabolic responses in animals. By implanting microbiota from healthy mice, the study authors prevented the development of liver inflammation and insulin resistance, both indications of liver disease and diabetes. Thus, gut microbiota transplants could have a therapeutic role in the development of these diseases."

The RR mice also showed lower levels of microorganisms than usually found in the healthy gut. Lachnospiraceae was identified as the species most important in developing fatty liver and insulin resistance.

At present, the intestinal microbiota is considered to constitute a "microbial organ": one that has pivotal roles in the body's metabolism as well as immune function. Therefore transplantation aims to restore gut functionality and re-establish a certain state of intestinal flora.

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Notes to Editors

About EASL

EASL is the leading European scientific society involved in promoting research and education in hepatology. EASL attracts the foremost hepatology experts and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.

EASL's main focus on education and research is delivered through numerous events and initiatives, including:

  • The International Liver CongressTM (http://www.easl.eu/_the-international-liver-congress/general-information) which is the main scientific and professional event in hepatology worldwide
  • Meetings including Monothematic and Special conferences, Post Graduate courses and other endorsed meetings that take place throughout the year
  • Clinical and Basic Schools of Hepatology, a series of events covering different aspects in the field of hepatology
  • Journal of Hepatology published monthly
  • Participation in a number of policy initiatives at European level
  • iLiver iPhone app - a free medical app developed by EASL, with content fully authored, validated and accredited by 42 independent liver specialists

About The International Liver CongressTM 2012

The International Liver Congress™ 2012, the 47th annual meeting of the European Association for the study of the Liver, is being held at the Centre Convencions Internacional (CCIB) in Barcelona from April 18 - 22, 2012. The congress annually attracts over 8,000 clinicians and scientists from around the world and provides an opportunity to hear the latest research, perspectives and treatments of liver disease from principal experts in the field.

References

1. Le Roy T et al. Gut microbiota transplantation demonstrates its causal role in the development of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. Abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2012

2. Khoruts A and Sadowsky MJ, Therapeutic transplantation of the distal gut microbiota. Mucosal Immunology 2011;4:4-7

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