Any alcohol use in NAFLD patients is associated with significant changes to the intestinal virome : Hepatology

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Original Articles: Steatohepatitis

Any alcohol use in NAFLD patients is associated with significant changes to the intestinal virome

Hsu, Cynthia L.1; Lang, Sonja2; Demir, Münevver3; Fouts, Derrick E.4; Stärkel, Peter5; Schnabl, Bernd1,6,7

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Hepatology 77(6):p 2073-2083, June 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/HEP.0000000000000238
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Background and Aims: 

The prevalence of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) are increasing worldwide, leading to the increasing likelihood of both etiologies contributing to a patient’s liver disease. However, the effects of modest alcohol use in NAFLD are controversial and more studies are needed. We compared the intestinal viromes of patients with AUD and NAFLD in order to evaluate the effect of alcohol consumption on the intestinal viromes of NAFLD patients by extracting virus-like particles and performing metagenomic sequencing.

Approach and Results: 

Viral nucleic acids were extracted from fecal samples and subjected to metagenomic sequencing. We demonstrate significant differences in the intestinal viromes of NAFLD and AUD patients, and that alcohol use in NAFLD patients reclassified to MAFLD accounted for significant differences in the intestinal viromes. The relative abundance of several Lactococcus phages was more similar between AUD patients and alcohol-consuming MAFLD patients than non–alcohol-consuming MAFLD patients and control subjects, and multivariate modeling using the most discriminating Lactococcus phages could better predict alcohol use in the MAFLD population than the alcohol-associated liver disease/NAFLD Index. Significant differences in the viral composition and diversity were also seen between MAFLD patients with low and moderate alcohol consumption compared with no alcohol consumption.


The intestinal virome of MAFLD patients who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol are significantly different from those who do not, and many features of the intestinal virome of alcohol-consuming MAFLD patients resemble that of AUD patients.


Copyright © 2023 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

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