Significant decrease in Faecalibacterium among gut microbiota in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a large BMI- and sex-matched population study

  • Chikara IinoEmail author
  • Tetsu Endo
  • Kenichiro Mikami
  • Takuma Hasegawa
  • Masayo Kimura
  • Naoya Sawada
  • Shigeyuki Nakaji
  • Shinsaku Fukuda
Original Article



Compositional changes of the gut microbiota are known to occur in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however, the changes did not corroborate between the studies. We evaluated the gut microbiota between NAFLD and non-NAFLD participants, excluding the influence of obesity and sex in this study involving a large number of participants.


In total, 1148 adults participated in the health survey. NAFLD was defined as fatty liver by ultrasonography in the absence of other causes of steatosis. To exclude the influence of obesity and sex, NAFLD participants were matched to non-NAFLD participants based on BMI and sex. The relative abundance of each bacterial taxa in fecal samples was calculated using 16S ribosomal RNA amplification and was compared between NAFLD and non-NAFLD participants.


There were 205 (23.5%) participants defined as having NAFLD. Before matching, there were significant differences in the relative abundance of more than 1% in two classes, two orders, three families, and three genera including Faecalibacterium between NAFLD and non-NAFLD participants. After matching, 153 matched pairs were obtained. In terms of the relative abundance of more than 1%, the relative abundance of two taxa, including the family Ruminococcaceae and the genus Faecalibacterium, was significantly lower in NAFLD participants than in non-NAFLD participants (p = 0.016 and p = 0.018).


The significant decrease in Faecalibacterium is a remarkable characteristic on BMI- and sex-matched analysis in NAFLD participants in a large study population. The decrease in Faecalibacterium is related to the pathogenesis of NAFLD.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease Gut microbiota Faecalibacterium 



Aspartate aminotransferase


Alanine aminotransferase


Body mass index


Hemoglobin A1c


Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance




Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease


Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis



This study was based on the Iwaki Health Promotion Project as a project by Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine, in collaboration with Aomori Heath Evaluation and Promotion Center and Hirosaki City Office, Department of Health Promotion.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Hirosaki University Medical Ethics Committee.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.


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Copyright information

© Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GastroenterologyHirosaki University Graduate School of MedicineHirosakiJapan
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineOwani HospitalOwaniJapan
  3. 3.Department of Social MedicineHirosaki University Graduate School of MedicineHirosakiJapan

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