Microbial translocation in chronic liver diseases

Marilia Rita Pinzone, Benedetto Maurizio Celesia, Michele Di Rosa, Bruno Cacopardo, Giuseppe Nunnari
International Journal of Microbiology 2012, 2012: 694629
The intestinal microflora is not only involved in the digestion of nutrients, but also in local immunity, forming a barrier against pathogenic microorganisms. The derangement of the gut microflora may lead to microbial translocation, defined as the passage of viable microorganisms or bacterial products (i.e., LPS, lipopeptides) from the intestinal lumen to the mesenteric lymph nodes and other extraintestinal sites. The most recent evidence suggests that microbial translocation (MT) may occur not only in cirrhosis, but also in the early stage of several liver diseases, including alcoholic hepatopathy and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Different mechanisms, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, increased permeability of intestinal mucosa, and impaired immunity, may favor MT. Furthermore, MT has been implicated in the pathogenesis of the complications of cirrhosis, which are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in cirrhotic subjects. Therapeutic strategies aiming at modulating the gut microflora and reducing MT have focused on antibiotic-based options, such as selective intestinal decontamination, and nonantibiotic-based options, such as prokinetics and probiotics. In particular, probiotics may represent an attractive strategy, even though the promising results of experimental models and limited clinical studies need to be confirmed in larger randomized trials.

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