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Synbiotic supplementation as a treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

11 August 2018


Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease worldwide. It can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. There are currently no recommended pharmacologic therapies solely for the treatment of NAFLD; only weight loss and lifestyle modifications are widely agreed upon recommendations. The clinical trials reviewed here demonstrate evidence that synbiotics can be a successful form of treatment of NAFLD in addition to weight loss and lifestyle modification.

Methods: An exhaustive search of the available medical literature was performed using MEDLINE-Ovid, Web of Science, and CINAHL. Search terms included “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” and “synbiotics.” Eligible studies were assessed using the GRADE criteria.

Results: Three articles met the eligibility criteria. All 3 were randomized controlled trials, 2 of which were double-blind and were written by some of the same authors but were done 3 years apart using completely separate data. The results were consistent in that various elements of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) significantly improved in the treatment groups compared to the control groups of all 3 studies. The quality of the outcomes is moderate to high, with a few limitations. Further studies done with the same synbiotic supplement and same duration of time can reduce these limitations and improve the quality of evidence of the effects of synbiotic supplementation on NAFLD.

Conclusion: Randomized controlled trials studying synbiotics as a treatment for NAFLD provide evidence to support their use as an adjunctive treatment to nutritional counseling and weight loss. Synbiotics are a safe and effective adjunctive treatment for all patients with NAFLD.

Keywords: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, synbiotics


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