AUTHORS: Flatt E, McLin VA, Olivier Braissant O, Pierzchala K, Mastromarino P, Mitrea SO, Sessa D, Gruetter R, Cudalbu C

Scientific Reports, 11(1): 17988, September 2021


Type C hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a neuropsychiatric disease caused by chronic liver disease. Management of type C HE remains an important challenge because treatment options are limited. Both the antibiotic rifaximin and probiotics have been reported to reduce the symptoms of HE, but longitudinal studies assessing their effects on brain metabolism are lacking and the molecular mechanisms underpinning their effects are not fully understood. Therefore, we evaluated in detail the effects of these different treatments on the neurometabolic changes associated with type C HE using a multimodal approach including ultra-high field in vivo 1H MRS. We analyzed longitudinally the effect of rifaximin alone or in combination with the probiotic Vivomixx on the brain metabolic profile in the hippocampus and cerebellum of bile duct ligated (BDL) rats, an established model of type C HE. Overall, while rifaximin alone appeared to induce no significant effect on the neurometabolic profile of BDL rats, its association with the probiotic resulted in more attenuated neurometabolic alterations in BDL rats followed longitudinally (i.e. a smaller increase in Gln and milder decrease in Glu and Cr levels). Given that both rifaximin and some probiotics are used in the treatment of HE, the implications of these findings may be clinically relevant.

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