Published online Mar 14, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i10.1493
Revised: June 22, 2005
Accepted: June 1, 2005
Published online: March 14, 2006
Increasing evidence suggests that derangement of gut flora is of substantial clinical relevance to patients with cirrhosis. Intestinal bacterial overgrowth and increased bacterial translocation of gut flora from the intestinal lumen, in particular, predispose to an increased potential for bacterial infection in this group. Recent studies suggest that, in addition to their role in the pathogenesis of overt infective episodes and the clinical consequences of sepsis, gut flora contributes to the pro-inflammatory state of cirrhosis even in the absence of overt infection. Furthermore, manipulation of gut flora to augment the intestinal content of lactic acid-type bacteria at the expense of other gut flora species with more pathogenic potential may favourably influence liver function in cirrhotic patients. Here we review current concepts of the various inter-relationships between gut flora, bacterial translocation, bacterial infection, pro-inflammatory cytokine production and liver function in this group.