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Treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis with probiotics. A proof-of-concept study

Vincent Wai-Sun Wong, Grace Lai-Hung Wong, Angel Mei-Ling Chim, Winnie Chiu-Wing Chu, David Ka-Wai Yeung, Kevin Chi-To Li, Henry Lik-Yuen Chan


Background. Probiotics have profound effect on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in animal models. We aimed to test the hypothesis that probiotics treatment was superior to usual care in reducing liver fat in NASH patients. Material and methods. Patients with histology-proven NASH were randomized to receive probiotics (n = 10) or usual care (n = 10) for 6 months. The Lepicol probiotic formula contained Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus deslbrueckii, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. The primary endpoint was change in intrahepatic triglyceride content (IHTG), as measured by proton-magnetic resonance spectroscopy, from baseline to month 6. Secondary endpoints included changes in liver biochemistry and metabolic profile. Results. IHTG decreased from 22.6 ± 8.2% to 14.9 ± 7.0% in the probiotic group (P = 0.034) but remained static in the usual care group (16.9 ± 6.1% to 16.0 ± 6.6%; P = 0.55). Six subjects in the probiotic group had IHTG reduced by more than 30% from baseline, compared to 2 subjects in the usual care group (P = 0.17). The probiotic group also had greater reduction in serum aspartate aminotransferase level (P = 0.008). On the other hand, the use of probiotics was not associated with changes in body mass index, waist circumference, glucose and lipid levels. Conclusions. Probiotics treatment may reduce liver fat and AST level in NASH patients. The therapeutic potential of probiotics in NASH should be tested in larger studies.

Key words. Fatty liver, Obesity, Randomized controlled trial, Prebiotics

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The Official Journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology, the Latin-American Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver

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