Hope for the 1 in 3 Americans with liver disease: New stool test could show condition years before symptoms occur without the need for invasive tests
- Left undetected, early stage liver disease can become serious injury, but it is difficult to see early  There are few symptoms and a definitive diagnosis requires historical surgery
- A new UC San Diego study suggests a way to spot signs with stools
A stool test could detect liver disease before symptoms occur without the need for invasive tests, a new study found.
The new method looks at bacteria in stools that can tell doctors whose non-alcoholic fat disease (NAFLD) is at an early or advanced stage.
NAFLD, a build-up of fat in the liver, affects one in three Americans and Britons, with the affinity load rising as waistlines expand.
If undetected, it may develop into severe liver damage, including cirrhosis, but it is incredibly difficult to catch early because there are few symptoms and it requires surgery.
Now, a study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, has identified unique patterns of bacterial species in the stools of people with the condition.
Left undiscovered, early stage liver disease can become serious injury, but it is difficult to see early. There are few symptoms and it requires surgery. A UC San Diego study suggests a way
& # 39; If we can better diagnose NAFLD-related cirrhosis, we would be better off enrolling the right patient types in clinical trials and ultimately better equipped to prevent and treat it, said professor of medicine Dr. Rohit Loomba.
& # 39; This latest advancement towards a non-invasive stool test for NAFLD cirrhosis may also help pave the way for other microbiome-based diagnoses and therapeutic agents and better enable us to deliver personal or precision medications for a variety of conditions. . & # 39;
The exact cause of NAFLD is unclear, but both diet and genetics play significant roles.
Up to half of obese children are believed to have NAFLD, and people with a first degree relative to NAFLD are at increased risk for the disease.
In a previous study of patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD, dr. Loomba and colleagues an intestinal microbial pattern that distinguished mild / moderate NAFLD from advanced disease.
This allowed them to predict which patients had advanced high precision disease.
In the new study, Dr. Loomba's team to know if a similar stool based on reading out what lives in a person with the NAFLD's gut may provide insight into their cirrhosis status.  The microbial makeup of stools samples from 98 people known to have some form of NAFLD and 105 of their first-degree relatives, including some twins were analyzed.
This was done by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene, a genetic marker specific for bacteria and their relatives, archea. The 16S rRNA sequences serve as "barcodes" to identify different types of bacteria and the relative amounts of each, even in a mixed sample as a stool.
Scientists first noted that people who share a home also tended to share similar microbial patterns in their intestinal microbiomas and further validate several previous studies. In addition, they observed that people with extreme forms of NAFLD had less different and less stable intestinal microbiomas. The team then identified 27 unique bacterial properties that are unique to the intestinal microbiomers and hence the feces of humans with NAFLD cirrhosis.
They could use this noninvasive stool test to select people with known NAFLD cirrhosis with 92% accuracy. 19659009] But more importantly, the test allowed them to differentiate the first degree relationship with previously undiagnosed NAFLD cirrhosis with 87 percent accuracy.
The results were confirmed by magnetic resonance e-imaging.
The bowel-based microbial media diagnostics could be available within five years and would cost about £ 300.
Dr. Loomba also pointed out that while a particular set of microbial species may be associated with advanced NAFLD cirrhosis, the study does not suggest that the presence or absence of these microbes causes NAFLD cirrhosis or vice versa.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.