Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Does alcohol Change gut microflora?

Does Alcohol Change Gut Microflora and is the Change Reversible?

A recent review published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics showed alcohol consumption adversely altered gut microbiota and could lead to negative impacts on the liver.
It is well known that alcohol intake directly and adversely affects the liver, but more recently, it has also been clinically shown to impact the gastrointestinal microbiota. To better elucidate this relationship the authors utilized the PubMed data base, to identify and review data from research articles addressing this topic.
The studies that the authors identified showed alcohol reduces gastrointestinal mobility possibly by inducing bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Alcohol may also reduce innate immune function which may impact types of bacteria present in the gut and lead to gut infections by suppression of a Th-1 response.
Recent research indicates that modifying gut microbiota by use of probiotics therapy may be a viable therapy to reduce liver injury and stop the progression of alcoholic liver disease. Numerous clinical trials examining probiotic supplementation in patients with alcoholic liver disease have shown improvement in liver enzymatic function and metabolism. Past research also indicates administration of probiotics decreases oxidative damage, and improves immune response to enteric pathogens. This is a promising area of research that needs further study to examine specific probiotic strains and duration of therapy necessary to help mitigate liver damage and potentially reverse damage from excessive alcoholic consumption.
Why is this clinically relevant?
  • Chronic alcohol intake leads to hepatic damage
  • Gut microbiota are altered by excessive alcohol consumption
  • Modulating gut flora may be a promising way to reverse liver damage and prevent disease progression in patients with alcoholic liver disease
  • Administration of probiotics for patients with alcoholic liver disease may help improve immune function and prevent oxidative damage

 2015 May;41(10):917-27. doi: 10.1111/apt.13164. Epub 2015 Mar 23.

Review article: Alcohol and gut microbiota - the possible role of gut microbiota modulation in the treatment of alcoholic liver disease.



Alcohol abuse represents the most common cause of liver disease in the Western countries. Pre-clinical and clinical studies showed that alcohol consumption affects amount and composition of gut microbiota. Moreover, gut flora plays an important role in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver injury.


To review the relationship between alcohol administration and changes on gut microbiota, its involvement in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease, and how gut microbiota modulation could be a target for the treatment of alcoholic liver disease.


Articles were identified using the PubMed database with the search terms 'Alcohol', 'Gut Microbiota', 'Alcoholic liver disease', 'Probiotic', 'Prebiotic', 'Symbiotic' and 'Antibiotic'. English-language articles were screened for relevance. Full review of publications for the relevant studies was conducted, including additional publications that were identified from individual article reference lists.


Alcohol abuse induces changes in the composition of gut microbiota, although the exact mechanism for this alteration is not well known. The translocation of bacterial products into the portal blood appears to play a key role in alcohol-induced liver damage. Several studies show that the modulation of gut microbiota seem to be a promising strategy to reduce alcohol-induced liver injury.


Further studies are needed to better understand the relationship between alcohol administration and changes in gut microbiota, and its involvement in alcoholic liver disease. Moreover larger studies are needed to confirm the preliminary results on the therapeutic effects of gut microbiota modulation.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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