Auto-brewery gut bacteria get you drunk

Gut bugs make your drunk

A newly discovered gut bacteria variant can make you drunk without you drinking any alcohol. But it’s not all good news…

A special type of a well-known intestinal bacterium could be responsible for some cases of severe liver disease, according to new studies.

Scientists from the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in China discovered the harmful bacterium in a patient who was clearly becoming very drunk without him consuming any alcohol. He suffered from the very rare condition of ABS (auto-brewery syndrome), which causes the intestines to produce alcohol.

Scientists had initially suspected that the condition was due to a yeast cell infection, but when they studied the patient’s intestinal flora they found no evidence of yeast. Instead they found a special variant of the Klebsiella pneumoniae bacterium that could produce four to six times more alcohol than the variant which normally exists in the intestinal flora. Apart from becoming unpleasantly drunk, the patient also suffered from severe infection and a fatty liver.

Subsequently, the scientists identified other patients with the same symptoms and studied their bacterial strains. It turned out that 60% had variants of the more common bacterium, all of which produced more alcohol.Experiments with mice produced identical secondary complications to those in the human patients.

Fatty liver is the world’s most common liver disease. In those cases where it is caused by the intestinal flora, it may now be treatable with targeted antibiotics.

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