A new data presented at the International Liver Congress 2012 reveals how gut microbiota contributes in the development of diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), independent of obesity.
A French study has found that gut microbiota transplantation, engrafting of new microbiota from a healthy donor's faecal material and transplanting it into the colon of a diseased recipient, can prevent diabetes and NAFLD.
In the 16 week study, two groups of germ free mice received gut microbiota transplants; one set from donor mice displaying symptoms of insulin resistance and liver steatosis (responders), the other from normal mice (non responders). The donor mice were selected due to their response to being fed a high fat diet.
The germ free group that received microbiota from symptomatic mice (responder receivers - RR) showed higher levels of fat concentration in the liver as well as being insulin resistant. The germ free group that received microbiota from healthy mice (non-responder-receivers - NRR) maintained normal glucose levels and sensitivity to insulin.
EASL Scientific Committee Member Dr Frank Lammert said: "The factors leading to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) are poorly understood, but it is known that NAFLD and Type 2 diabetes are characterised, respectively, by liver inflammation and metabolic disorders like insulin resistance."
"This study shows that different microbiota cause different metabolic responses in animals. By implanting microbiota from healthy mice, the study authors prevented the development of liver inflammation and insulin resistance, both indications of liver disease and diabetes. Thus, gut microbiota transplants could have a therapeutic role in the development of these diseases."
The RR mice also showed lower levels of microorganisms than usually found in the healthy gut. Lachnospiraceae was identified as the species most important in developing fatty liver and insulin resistance.
At present, the intestinal microbiota is considered to constitute a "microbial organ": one that has pivotal roles in the body's metabolism as well as immune function. Therefore transplantation aims to restore gut functionality and re-establish a certain state of intestinal flora.