Desulfovibrio vulgaris, a potent acetic acid-producing bacterium, attenuates nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in mice

Ying Hong*, Lili Sheng, Jing Zhong, Xin Tao, Weize Zhu, Junli Ma, Juan Yan, Aihua Zhao, Xiaojiao Zheng, Gaosong Wu, Bingbing Li, Bangxing Han, Kan Ding, Ningning Zheng, Wei Jia*, Houkai Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


The emerging evidence supports the use of prebiotics like herb-derived polysaccharides for treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by modulating gut microbiome. The present study was initiated on the microbiota-dependent anti-NAFLD effect of Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) extracted from Astragalus mongholicus Bunge in high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. However, the exact mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of APS on NAFLD formation remain poorly understood.

Co-housing experiment was used to assess the microbiota dependent anti-NAFLD effect of APS. Then, targeted metabolomics and metagenomics were adopted for determining short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and bacteria that were specifically enriched by APS. Further in vitro experiment was carried out to test the capacity of SCFAs-producing of identified bacterium. Finally, the anti-NAFLD efficacy of identified bacterium was tested in HFD-fed mice.

Our results first demonstrated the anti-NAFLD effect of APS in HFD-fed mice and the contribution of gut microbiota. Moreover, our results indicated that SCFAs, predominantly acetic acid were elevated in APS-supplemented mice and ex vivo experiment. Metagenomics revealed that D. vulgaris from Desulfovibrio genus was not only enriched by APS, but also a potent generator of acetic acid, which showed significant anti-NAFLD effects in HFD-fed mice. In addition, D. vulgaris modulated the hepatic gene expression pattern of lipids metabolism, particularly suppressed hepatic fatty acid synthase (FASN) and CD36 protein expression.

Our results demonstrate that APS enriched D. vulgaris is effective on attenuating hepatic steatosis possibly through producing acetic acid, and modulation on hepatic lipids metabolism in mice. Further studies are warranted to explore the long-term impacts of D. vulgaris on host metabolism and the underlying mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1930874
Number of pages20
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Microbiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

User-Defined Keywords

  • acetic acid
  • D. vulgaris
  • Gut microbiota
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • obesity


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