Microbiome Analysis Center, George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia.
Liver transplantation (LT) improves daily function and cognition in patients with cirrhosis, but a subset of patients can remain impaired. Unfavorable microbiota or dysbiosis is observed in patients with cirrhosis, but the effect of LT on microbial composition, especially with poor post-LT cognition, is unclear. The aims were to determine the effect of LT on gut microbiota and to determine whether gut microbiota are associated with cognitive dysfunction after LT. We enrolled outpatient patients with cirrhosis on the LT list and followed them until 6 months after LT. Cognition (Psychometric Hepatic Encephalopathy score [PHES]), health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and stool microbiota (multitagged sequencing for diversity and taxa) tests were performed at both visits. Persistent cognitive impairment was defined as a stable/worsening PHES. Both pre-/post-LT data were compared with age-matched healthy controls. We enrolled 45 patients (56 ± 7 years, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score 26 ± 8). They received LT 6 ± 3 months after enrollment and were re-evaluated 7 ± 2 months after LT with a stable course. A significantly improved HRQOL, PHES, with increase in microbial diversity, increase in autochthonous, and decrease in potentially pathogenic taxa were seen after LT compared with baseline. However, there was continued dysbiosis and HRQOL/cognitive impairment after LT compared with controls in 29% who did not improve PHES after LT. In these, Proteobacteria relative abundance was significantly higher and Firmicutes were lower after LT, whereas the reverse occurred in the group that improved. Delta PHES was negatively correlated with delta Proteobacteria and positively with delta Firmicutes. In conclusion, LT improves gut microbiota diversity and dysbiosis compared with pre-LT baseline but residual dysbiosis remains compared with controls. There is cognitive and HRQOL enhancement in general after LT, but a higher Proteobacteria relative abundance change is associated with posttransplant cognitive impairment. Liver Transplantation 23 907-914 2017 AASLD.