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Prebiotic approach alleviates hepatic steatosis: Implication of fatty acid oxidative and cholesterol synthesis pathways


Correspondence: Professor Nathalie M. Delzenne, Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, av. E. Mounier box B1.73.11, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium


Fax: +32-2-764-73-59



Recent data suggest that gut microbiota contributes to the regulation of host lipid metabolism. We report how fermentable dietary fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) control hepatic steatosis induced by n-3 PUFA depletion, which leads to hepatic alterations similar to those observed in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients.

Methods and results

C57Bl/6J mice fed an n-3 PUFA-depleted diet for 3 months were supplemented with FOS during the last 10 days of treatment. FOS-treated mice exhibited higher caecal Bifidobacterium spp. and lower Roseburia spp. content. Microarray analysis of hepatic mRNA revealed that FOS supplementation reduced hepatic triglyceride accumulation through a proliferator-activated receptor α-stimulation of fatty acid oxidation and lessened cholesterol accumulation by inhibiting sterol regulatory element binding protein 2-dependent cholesterol synthesis. Cultured precision-cut liver slices confirmed the inhibition of fatty acid oxidation. FOS effects were related to a decreased hepatic micro-RNA33 expression and to an increased colonic glucagon-like peptide 1 production.


The changes in gut microbiota composition by n-3 PUFA-depletion and prebiotics modulate hepatic steatosis by changing gene expression in the liver, a phenomenon that could implicate micro-RNA and gut-derived hormones. Our data underline the advantage of targeting the gut microbiota by colonic nutrients in the management of liver disease.