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J Nutr. 2013 May;143(5):627-31. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.172460. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Fatty liver accompanies an increase in lactobacillus species in the hind gut of C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat diet.

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  • 1USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND, USA.


High-fat (HF) diets can produce obesity and have been linked to the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and changes in the gut microbiome. To test the hypothesis that HF feeding increases certain predominant hind gut bacteria and development of steatohepatitis, C57BL/6 mice were fed an HF (45% energy) or low-fat (LF) (10% energy) diet for 10 wk. At the end of the feeding period, body weights in the HF group were 34% greater than those in the LF group (P < 0.05). These changes were associated with dramatic increases in lipid droplet number and size, inflammatory cell infiltration, and inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase protein concentration in the livers of mice fed the HF diet. Consistent with the fatty liver phenotype, plasma leptin and tumor necrosis factor-α concentrations were also elevated in mice fed the HF diet, indicative of chronic inflammation. Eight of 12 pairs of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers for bacterial species that typically predominate hind gut microbial ecology generated specific PCR products from the fecal DNA samples. The amount of DNA from Lactobacillus gasseri and/or Lactobacillus taiwanensis in the HF group was 6900-fold greater than that in the LF group. Many of these bacteria are bile acid resistant and are capable of bile acid deconjugation. Because bile acids are regulators of hepatic lipid metabolism, the marked increase of gut L. gasseri and/or L. taiwanensis species bacteria with HF feeding may play a role in development of steatohepatitis in this model.

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