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Gut bacteria to blame for alcohol liver disease in some?

liver disease dietWhy is that the severity of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is not equal in all heavy drinkers? The secret may lie in the the gut flora or what is now known as microbiota, says a study. 'These findings provide first evidence for a causal role of gut microbiota in alcohol-induced inflammation,' said professor Frank Lammert, scientific committee member, European Association for the Study of the Liver.

In the study, two groups of germ-free mice received gut microbiota transplants from human representatives; one set from a patient with severe alcoholic hepatitis, the other from a patient with a history of alcohol abuse but without alcoholic hepatitis. The two sets of germ-free mice were then fed a liquid alcoholic diet. The group that received microbiota from the patient with severe alcoholic hepatitis developed a more severe liver injury and a higher disruption of the intestinal mucosa in direct comparison to the group that received microbiota from the patient without severe alcoholic hepatitis. (Read: 9 tips to prevent liver disease (Gallery))

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The findings open up new avenues for the treatment of alcoholic liver disease with potentially better patient outcomes, Lammert said. The researchers highlighted the possibility of preventing ALD with faecal microbiota transplantation - the engrafting of new microbiota, usually through administering human faecal material from a healthy donor into the colon of a recipient. The study also identified two Clostridium bacteria that were able to produce ethanol in vitro and that were systematically associated with intestinal microbiota associated liver injury. (Read: Even changing your mealtimes could cause liver disease!)

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Short-term effects of alcohol consumption

When you drink, the liver works overtime to convert the alcohol into acetic acid which is then converted into acetate which we release from the body as urine. When it's doing all this, it's diverted from its primary purpose of providing glucose. This lack of glucose causes the effects of a hangover like nausea, vomiting, headaches and fatigue and in medical terms is called hypoglycaemia or the lack of glucose. Also, glucose is vital for our brain to function and this explains why we are lethargic and have slower cognitive function during hangovers. (Read: tips to beat a killer hangover)

Long-term effects of alcohol consumption on liver

The long-term effects of alcoholism are even more catastrophic. It affects all liver function and is along with fatty foods the primary cause of most liver ailments. The fat deposited due to alcohol leads to an ailment called fatty liver disease and also causes inflammation of the liver which leads to alcoholic hepatitis. For those who don't know, hepatitis is inflammation of the liver is the first stage of liver disease due to alcohol. The next stage is the thickening of the connecting tissue which is called fibrosis and finally a chronic liver disease which is marked by cell degeneration, inflammation and advanced fibrosis which doctors call cirrhosis. (Read: Alcohol and liver disease what's the connection?)

With inputs from IANS

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