Digital Public Defence: Steinar Traae Bjørkhaug
Cand.med. Steinar Traae Bjørkhaug at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “Alcohol-related alterations of the gut microbial flora” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).
The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.
The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.
Digital Trial Lecture – time and place
- First opponent: Professor Philippe de Timary, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
- Second opponent: Professor Jon Florholmen, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway
- Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Siri Rostoft, University of Oslo
Chair of the Defence
Associate Professor Truls Hauge, University of Oslo
Head of Department Jørgen Valeur, Unger-Vetlesen Institute, Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital
Chronic alcohol overconsumption is a common public health issue and a major cause of morbidity worldwide. During recent years, interest in gut microbiota and its potential relationship with disease, including alcohol related morbidity, has been increasing.
The aims of this cross sectional study was to investigate gut microbiota in patients with chronic alcohol overconsumption, compared with patients with no history of alcohol overconsumption, and to explore possible associations with markers of systemic inflammation, psychiatric symptoms and biochemical liver function tests.
The gut microbiota was assessed using 13C-D-xylose breath tests, and 16S rRNA sequencing technique and quantification of short-chain fatty acids from faecal samples. To investigate the systemic immune system, selected cytokine levels were measured from plasma samples.
Patients with chronic alcohol overconsumption had different gut microbiota composition and functions than control patients. This included a higher abundance of bacteria from phylum Proteobacteria, a lower abundance of bacteria from genus Faecalibacterium, and lower fraction of the short chain fatty acid butyrate. There were higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IFN-γ and MCP-1) and lower levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (TGF-β1) in these patients, as well as higher levels of anxiety and depression. Cytokine levels were associated with biochemical liver function tests. The results indicated a potentially pro-inflammatory microenvironment of the gut lumen, and a low-grade, pro-inflammatory activation of the systemic immune system, in patients with chronic alcohol overconsumption.
The clinical implications of the findings are not completely uncovered. However, the results indicate an increased inflammatory activity within the intestines and the systemic immune system that may be associated with increased morbidity, in patients with chronic alcohol overconsumption.
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