JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Probiotics as an emerging therapeutic strategy to treat NAFLD: focus on molecular and biochemical mechanisms

Anna Iacono, Giuseppina Mattace Raso, Roberto Berni Canani, Antonio Calignano, Rosaria Meli
Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2011, 22 (8): 699-711
21292470
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is currently the most common liver disease worldwide, both in adults and in children. NAFLD is characterized by aberrant lipid storage in hepatocytes (hepatic steatosis) and inflammatory progression to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Evidences so far suggest that intrahepatic lipid accumulation does not always derive from obesity. Gut microbiota has been considered as a regulator of energy homeostasis and ectopic fat deposition, suggesting its implications in metabolic diseases. Probiotics are live microbial that alter the enteric microflora and have beneficial effects on human health. Although the molecular mechanisms of probiotics have not been completely elucidated yet, many of their effects have proved to be beneficial in NAFLD, including the modulation of the intestinal microbiota, an antibacterial substance production, an improved epithelial barrier function and a reduced intestinal inflammation. Given the close anatomical and functional correlation between the bowel and the liver, and the immunoregulatory effects elicited by probiotics, the aim of this review is to summarize today's knowledge about probiotics in NAFLD, focusing in particular on their molecular and biochemical mechanisms, as well as highlighting their efficacy as an emerging therapeutic strategy to treat this condition.

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