Researchers from INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) have shown that patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver have gut microbiota that is very different from that of healthy individuals as it appears to contain a higher proportion of oral bacteria. Thanks to this discovery, the scientists have been able to develop a test for diagnosing cirrhosis that is more than 90% reliable.
The INRA team set about characterising the intestinal bacterial population of patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. To do this, they analysed the microbiota of 250 individuals, half of whom had this hepatic disorder. They were able to show that among those with cirrhosis, 40% of the gut microbiota consisted of bacteria rarely found in healthy individuals. The majority of these were oral in origin. A plausible explanation could be that the dysfunction of bile found in cirrhosis may assist this normally impossible bacterial migration.
The scientists were then able to develop a diagnostic test making to identify cirrhosis sufferers. This test, carried out on patients’ stool samples is very promising as it is non-invasive and more than 90% reliable. It also makes it possible to determine how advanced the disease is.
In France, 700,000 cases of liver cirrhosis were recorded in 2012. The main causes associated with this condition are obesity, viral infections and alcohol. Depending on its seriousness, the disease may lead to cancer and even to liver failure, which requires a liver transplant.