Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasing cause of chronic liver illness associated with obesity and metabolic disorders, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, or type 2 diabetes mellitus. A more severe type of NAFLD, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), is considered an ongoing global health threat and dramatically increases the risks of cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Several reports have demonstrated that liver steatosis is associated with the elevation of certain clinical and biochemical markers but with low predictive potential. In addition, current imaging methods are inaccurate and inadequate for quantification of liver steatosis and do not distinguish clearly between the microvesicular and the macrovesicular types. On the other hand, an unhealthy status usually presents an altered gut microbiota, associated with the loss of its functions. Indeed, NAFLD pathophysiology has been linked to lower microbial diversity and a weakened intestinal barrier, exposing the host to bacterial components and stimulating pathways of immune defense and inflammation via toll-like receptor signaling. Moreover, this activation of inflammation in hepatocytes induces progression from simple steatosis to NASH. In the present review, we aim to: (a) summarize studies on both human and animals addressed to determine the impact of alterations in gut microbiota in NASH; (b) evaluate the potential role of such alterations as biomarkers for prognosis and diagnosis of this disorder; and (c) discuss the involvement of microbiota in the current treatment for NAFLD/NASH (i.e., bariatric surgery, physical exercise and lifestyle, diet, probiotics and prebiotics, and fecal microbiota transplantation).
- Fecal microbiota transplantation
- Intestinal permeability
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
- Physical exercise