Because of the anatomical position and its unique vascular system, the liver is susceptible to the exposure to the microbial products from the gut. Although large amount of microbes colonize in the gut, translocation of the microbes or microbial products into the liver and systemic circulation is prevented by gut epithelial barrier function and cleansing and detoxifying functions of the liver in healthy subjects. However, when the intestinal barrier function is disrupted, large amount of bacterial products can enter into the liver and systemic circulation and induce inflammation through their receptors. Nowadays, there have been various reports suggesting the role of gut flora and bacterial translocation in the pathogenesis of chronic liver disease and portal hypertension. This review summarizes the current knowledge about bacterial translocation and its contribution to the pathogenesis of chronic liver diseases and portal hypertension.
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