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Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2017 Jun;3(3):101-113. doi: 10.1007/s40495-017-0087-0. Epub 2017 Mar 3.

Remote Sensing between Liver and Intestine: Importance of Microbial Metabolites.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98105.


Recent technological advancements including metagenomics sequencing and metabolomics have allowed the discovery of critical functions of gut microbiota in obesity, malnutrition, neurological disorders, asthma, and xenobiotic metabolism. Classification of the human gut microbiome into distinct "enterotypes" has been proposed to serve as a new paradigm for understanding the interplay between microbial variation and human disease phenotypes, as many organs are affected by gut microbiota modifications during the pathogenesis of diseases. Gut microbiota remotely interacts with liver and other metabolic organs of the host through various microbial metabolites that are absorbed into the systemic circulation.


The present review summarizes recent literature regarding the importance of gut microbiota in modulating the physiological and pathological responses of various host organs, and describes the functions of the known microbial metabolites that are involved in this remote sensing process, with a primary focus on the gut microbiota-liver axis.


Under physiological conditions, gut microbiota modulates the hepatic transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome, most notably down-regulating cytochrome P450 3a mediated xenobiotic metabolism. Gut microbiome also modulates the rhythmicity in liver gene expression, likely through microbial metabolites, such as butyrate and propionate that serve as epigenetic modifiers. Additionally, the production of host hormones such as primary bile acids and glucagon like peptide 1 is altered by gut microbiota to modify intermediary metabolism of the host.


Dysregulation of gut microbiota is implicated in various liver diseases such as alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, liver cirrhosis, cholangitis, and liver cancer. Gut microbiota modifiers such as probiotics and prebiotics are increasingly recognized as novel therapeutic modalities for liver and other types of human diseases.


Bile acids; Choline metabolites; Intestine microbiome; Liver diseases; Microbial metabolites; Short-chain fatty acids

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