The gut microbiota and the liver: Implications for clinical practice
While a central role for the microbiota in the precipitation of infectious and non-infectious complications of liver disease has been long established, evidence for a more fundamental role in the etiology of several liver diseases continues to accumulate. However, though progress is rapidly occurring in this area, the definitive delineation of the precise relevance of changes in the microbiota to various forms and stages of liver disease is still far from complete. While high quality clinical evidence supports the use of antibiotic therapy, in the management of hepatic encephalopathy, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and other infectious complications, how these interventions impact on the microbiota and microbiota-host interactions has not been clearly defined. Although probiotics and even, perhaps, fecal transplantation hold promise in the management of liver disease, and the potential impact of probiotics is supported by a considerable amount of laboratory data, high-quality clinical evidence is scanty.