Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL) includes a spectrum of clinicopathological conditions with increasing prevalence in the developed world. Although steatosis alone seems to have a benign course, those patients with the diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can have a progressive course. Additionally, there is now evolving, indirect evidence that some of the patients with cryptogenic cirrhosis may be the result of ‘burned-out’ NASH. Although NAFL and NASH are associated with insulin-resistance syndrome, some patients with NAFL may have no obvious risk factors. Despite preliminary data from a number of pilot studies, no established therapies can be offered to patients with NASH. Over the next few years, a number of exciting research projects dealing with the epidemiology as well as the pathogenesis of NAFL are expected to be completed. It is anticipated that, through a better understanding of NAFL, more effective treatment protocols can be developed targeting only those patients with NASH that are at the highest risk for progression to cirrhosis and liver failure.
© 2002 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd