Links between gut microbiome, metabolome, clinical variables and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease severity in bariatric patients

Katherine J. P. Schwenger, Divya Sharma, Yasaman Ghorbani, Wei Xu, Wendy Lou, Elena M. Comelli, Sandra E. Fischer, Timothy D. Jackson, Allan Okrainec, Johane P. Allard

Liver Int. 2024 Feb 14. doi: 10.1111/liv.15864 doi: 10.1111/liv.15864

Pubmed: 38353022


Background and aims: Bacterial species and microbial pathways along with metabolites and clinical parameters may interact to contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and disease severity. We used integrated machine learning models and a cross-validation approach to assess this interaction in bariatric patients.

Methods: 113 patients undergoing bariatric surgery had clinical and biochemical parameters, blood and stool metabolite measurements as well as faecal shotgun metagenome sequencing to profile the intestinal microbiome. Liver histology was classified as normal liver obese (NLO; n = 30), simple steatosis (SS; n = 41) or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH; n = 42); fibrosis was graded F0 to F4.

Results: We found that those with NASH versus NLO had an increase in potentially harmful E. coli, a reduction of potentially beneficial Alistipes putredinis and an increase in ALT and AST. There was higher serum glucose, faecal 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-3-hydroxypropionic acid and faecal cholic acid and lower serum glycerophospholipids. In NAFLD, those with severe fibrosis (F3-F4) versus F0 had lower abundance of anti-inflammatory species (Eubacterium ventriosum, Alistipes finegoldii and Bacteroides dorei) and higher AST, serum glucose, faecal acylcarnitines, serum isoleucine and homocysteine as well as lower serum glycerophospholipids. Pathways involved with amino acid biosynthesis and degradation were significantly more represented in those with NASH compared to NLO, with severe fibrosis having an overall stronger significant association with Superpathway of menaquinol-10 biosynthesis and Peptidoglycan biosynthesis IV.

Conclusions: In bariatric patients, NASH and severe fibrosis were associated with specific bacterial species, metabolic pathways and metabolites that may contribute to NAFLD pathogenesis and disease severity.

Keywords: fatty liver; hepatic fibrosis; metabolic pathways; metagenome; morbid obesity.