Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the leading cause of chronic liver disease globally. It is a progressive disease which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and death. Now, a team of scientists has found that the makeup of your gut bacteria – called gut microbiome – can be used to predict your risk of liver cirrhosis if you have NAFLD. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver thickens and loses much of its function. The gut microbiome is the population of microorganisms found in your stool and your gastrointestinal tract.
In this study, the researchers compared the microbiome of 163 participants including those with NAFLD, their first-degree relatives, and control-patients without the disease. Combining this data with participant’s age and their blood levels of a protein produced by the liver, the scientists were able to stratify the risk of liver cirrhosis among those with NAFLD.
Next is for the scientists to determine if these gut bacteria play a role in liver cirrhosis, and whether this test can be employed in hospital settings.