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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Authors


Dr KD Lindor, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, USA. Email: lindor.keith@mayo.edn

Abstract

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a chronic liver disease that affects a high proportion of the world’s population. Insulin resistance and oxidative stress play a critical role in the pathogenesis of NAFLD. Clinical, biochemical and imaging studies are of value in the diagnostic evaluation of patients with NAFLD, but liver biopsy remains the most sensitive and specific means of providing important diagnostic and prognostic information. Simple steatosis has the best prognosis within the spectrum of NAFLD, but NAFLD has the potential to progress to steatohepatitis, fibrosis and even cirrhosis. No effective medical therapy is currently available for all patients with NAFLD. In patients with diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia, appropriate metabolic control is always recommended, but rarely effective in resolving the liver disease. Weight reduction, when achieved and sustained, may improve the liver disease, although the results with weight loss have been inconsistent. Pharmacological therapy aimed at the underlying liver disease holds promise. Several medications with different mechanisms of action and potential benefit are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. Liver transplantation is a life-extending therapeutic alternative for patients with end-stage NAFLD, but NAFLD may recur after liver transplantation.

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