Gut microbiota in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a PREDIMED-Plus trial sub analysis.

Gut microbes. 2023;15(1):2223339

Plain language summary

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the main cause of chronic liver disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the changes in the microbiota associated with changes in biochemical markers of NAFLD/NASH after an intervention. This substudy was conducted in the frame of the PREDIMED-Plus study, a 6-year, multicentre, randomised clinical trial for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) conducted in men aged 55–75 years and women aged 60–75 years with overweight or obesity and metabolic syndrome. Results showed a relationship between liver disease biochemical indexes changes and gut microbiota changes within a context of a Mediterranean lifestyle. In fact, two noninvasive scores for liver steatosis and liver fibrosis, usually used in clinical practice, could differentiate gut microbiota populations. Authors conclude that their findings highlight the importance of lifestyle intervention in the modulation of gut microbiota and the management of metabolic syndrome and its hepatic manifestations.


To evaluate the changes in the gut microbiota associated with changes in the biochemical markers of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) after a lifestyle intervention with the Mediterranean diet. Participants (n = 297) from two centers of PREDIMED-Plus trial (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) were divided into three different groups based on the change tertile in the Hepatic Steatosis Index (HSI) or the Fibrosis-4 score (FIB-4) between baseline and one year of intervention. One-year changes in HSI were: tertile 1 (T1) (-24.9 to -7.51), T2 (-7.5 to -1.86), T3 (-1.85 to 13.64). The most significant differences in gut microbiota within the year of intervention were observed in the T1 and T3. According to the FIB-4, participants were categorized in non-suspected fibrosis (NSF) and with indeterminate or suspected fibrosis (SF). NSF participants showed higher abundances of Alcaligenaceae, Bacteroidaceae, Bifidobacteriaceae, Clostridiaceae, Enterobacteriaceae, Peptostreptococcaceae, Verrucomicrobiaceae compared to those with SF. Then, participants were divided depending on the FIB-4 tertile of change: T1 (-89.60 to -5.57), T2 (-5.56 to 11.4), and T3 (11.41 to 206.24). FIB-4 T1 showed a decrease in Akkermansia and an increase in Desulfovibrio. T2 had an increase in Victivallaceae, Clostridiaceae, and Desulfovibrio. T3 showed a decrease in Enterobacteriaceae, and an increase in Sutterella, Faecalibacterium, and Blautia. A relation between biochemical index changes of NAFLD/NASH (HSI and FIB-4) and gut microbiota changes were found. These observations highlight the importance of lifestyle intervention in the modulation of gut microbiota and the management of metabolic syndrome and its hepatic manifestations. What You Need to KnowWhat is the context:Obesity and metabolic syndrome have been associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Gut microbiota and its interaction with the environment may play a key role in NAFLD.What is new:Mediterranean diet and physical activity can modify the scores for liver steatosis (HSI) and liver fibrosis (FIB−4) in only one year. A relation between the changes in these scores and gut microbiota changes was found.What is the impact:The discovery of microbiota-based biomarkers for NAFLD and the development of strategies to modulate gut microbiota in the treatment of NAFLD.

Lifestyle medicine

Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Gut microbiota
Environmental Inputs : Physical exercise ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Stool

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 3
Allocation concealment : Yes