Public Release:  Gut microbiota may play a role in the development of alcoholic liver disease

European Association for the Study of the Liver

London, UK, Saturday 12 April 2014: Exciting new data presented today at the International Liver Congress™ 2014 shows that the gut microbiota has a potential role in the development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD).1 Though an early stage animal model, the French study highlights the possibility of preventing ALD with faecal microbiota transplantation - the engrafting of new microbiota, usually through administering human faecal material from a healthy donor into the colon of a recipient.2

In the study, two groups of germ-free mice received gut microbiota transplants from human representatives; one set from a patient with severe alcoholic hepatitis, the other from a patient with a history of alcohol abuse but without alcoholic hepatitis. The two sets of germ-free mice were then fed a liquid alcoholic diet.

The group that received microbiota from the patient with severe alcoholic hepatitis developed a more severe liver injury and a higher disruption of the intestinal mucosa in direct comparison to the group that received microbiota from the patient without severe alcoholic hepatitis. The study also identified two Clostridium bacteria that were able to produce ethanol in vitro and that were systematically associated with intestinal microbiota associated liver injury.

EASL Scientific Committee Member Prof. Frank Lammert commented: "Among heavy drinkers, the severity of alcoholic liver disease does not strictly correlate with the amount of alcohol intake, meaning that other factors must be influencing its development."

"These findings provide first evidence for a causal role of gut microbiota in alcohol-induced inflammation, and open up new avenues for the treatment of alcoholic liver disease with potentially better patient outcomes." At present, 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 the homoestasis of intestinal flora.

The study was developed by an INRA-Micalis and INSERM/Paris-South University/Antoine-Béclère hospital collaboration.

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Disclaimer: the data referenced in this release is based on the submitted abstract. More recent data may be presented at the International Liver Congress™ 2014.

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 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
  • Organisation of a Mentorship program and Masterclass to support young investigators starting out on their career path
  • Participation in a number of policy initiatives at European level

About The International Liver CongressTM 2014

The International Liver Congress™ 2014, the 49th annual meeting of the European Association for the study of the Liver, is being held at ExCel London from April 9 - 13, 2014. The congress annually attracts in excess of 9000 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.

For further information on the studies, or to request an interview, please do not hesitate to contact the EASL Press Office on: Email: easlpressoffice@cohnwolfe.com

Helena Symeou +44 7976 562 430
Courtney Lock +44 7894 386 422

1. M. Llopis et al. INTESTINAL DYSBIOSIS EXPLAINS INTER-INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN SUSCEPTIBILITY TO ALCOHOLIC LIVER DISEASE. Abstract presented at the International Liver Congress™ 2014

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

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