Probiotics For Fatty Liver Disease

Probiotics and alterations in the microbiome are being examined for a range of ailments.  However, as noted in previous blog posts, the current evidence shows only a limited number of disorders where probiotics have been proven effective.  There is more evidence, now, that probiotics may be beneficial for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

  • Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 99: 425-6. editorial
  • Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 99: 535-42.

The referenced article examined 52 nondiabetic patients with fatty liver disease in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Patients were considered to have NAFLD on the basis of an ultrasonography and an alanine aminotransferase value >60 U/L.  Those who received a probiotic were compared with a placebo group and followed for 28 weeks.

In this study, rather than a probiotic, technically, the treatment group received a synbiotic because it contained fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which are non digestible oligosaccharides in addition to a probiotic mixture.  FOS can stimulate the growth of intestinal bacteria.  The probiotic mixture included Lactobacillus case, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Streptococcus thermopiles, Bificobacterium breve, Lactobacillus, acidophilus, B. longum, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Key findings:

  • There were improvements in ALT values and in baseline mild fibrosis (estimated by Fibroscan).
  • There were decreased levels of circulating TNF-α and decreased nuclear transcription factor κβ in circulating mononuclear leukocytes –both consistent with decreased systemic inflammation


  1. Study did not include liver histology (biopsy).  In addition, in nearly all subjects, the fibroscans were near normal, both before and after the intervention.  Thus, the reduction in liver stiffness is not clear cut.
  2. Small number of participants.
  3. Short study period.

Bottomline: This study along with several others points towards a potential role for modulating the microbiome to improve NAFLD along with metabolic syndrome more broadly.

Related blog posts:




1 thought on “Probiotics For Fatty Liver Disease

  1. Pingback: The Truth about Probiotics: Constipation Version | gutsandgrowth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.