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World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Oct 28;19(40):6911-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i40.6911.

Effects of probiotics on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a meta-analysis.

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Yan-Yan Ma, Lin Li, Chao-Hui Yu, Zhe Shen, Li-Hua Chen, You-Ming Li, Department of Gastroenterology, the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310003, Zhejiang Province, China.



To investigate the relationship between the gut-liver axis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), we performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of probiotic therapy in NAFLD.


We searched PubMed, Medline, Embase, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library and Chinese Biomedicine Database for all relevant randomized controlled trials on probiotics in patients with NAFLD/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). A statistical analysis was performed using RevMan 5.0 software.


Four randomized trials involving 134 NAFLD/NASH patients were included. The results showed that probiotic therapy significantly decreased alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), total-cholesterol (T-chol), high density lipoprotein (HDL), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) [ALT: weighted mean difference (WMD) -23.71, 95%CI: -33.46--13.95, P < 0.00001; AST: WMD -19.77, 95%CI: -32.55--7.00, P = 0.002; T-chol: WMD -0.28, 95%CI: -0.55--0.01, P = 0.04; HDL: WMD -0.09, 95%CI: -0.16-0.01, P = 0.03; TNF-α: WMD -0.32, 95%CI: -0.48--0.17, P < 0.0001; HOMA-IR: WMD -0.46, 95%CI: -0.73--0.19, P = 0.0008]. However, the use of probiotics was not associated with changes in body mass index (BMI), glucose (GLU) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) (BMI: WMD 0.05, 95%CI: -0.18-0.29, P = 0.64; GLU: WMD 0.05, 95%CI: -0.25-0.35, P = 0.76; LDL: WMD -0.38, 95%CI: -0.78-0.02, P = 0.06).


Probiotic therapies can reduce liver aminotransferases, total-cholesterol, TNF-α and improve insulin resistance in NAFLD patients. Modulation of the gut microbiota represents a new treatment for NAFLD.


Insulin resistance; Liver function; Meta-analysis; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Probiotics

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