Bacteria in the gut influence the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study conducted by Frank Gonzalez and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute provides a link between molecular signaling pathways in the gut, the intestinal microbiome, and development of NAFLD.
NAFLD is the most common liver disorder and affects approximately 1 billion people worldwide. Mice studies revealed that disruption of the gut microflora prevented development of NAFLD in mice fed a high fat diet. Also, it decreased intestinal farnesoid X receptor (FXR) signaling, which influences bile acid synthesis. Mice lacking FXR were protected from developing NAFLD when fed a high fat diet.
Put together this data indicates that activation of FXR by the gut microbiome promotes development of NAFLD and altering microbial populations in the gut or inhibiting FXR may protect against the development of NAFLD.