J Hepatol 2013 Jun 10;58(6):1218-29. Epub 2012 Dec 10.
Hepato-metabolic Disease Unit and Liver Research Unit, "Bambino Gesù" Children's Hospital, IRCCS, P.le S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome, Italy.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a multi-faceted disorder, which ranges from simple steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with/without fibrosis. The effects of specific risk factors, such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle, on predisposing genetic settings eventually lead to the development of NAFLD in children. The complex interplay between genes and environment in NAFLD pathogenesis is sustained by multiple mechanisms that involve liver crosstalk with other organs and tissues, especially gut and adipose tissue. Unfortunately, natural history of paediatric NAFLD is lacking, and the etiopathogenesis is still in the process of being defined. Potential early predictors and suitable non-invasive diagnostic tools can be discovered based on the pathogenetic mechanisms and histological patterns. This will also help design novel treatments and a comprehensive and successful management strategy for patients. In this review, we discuss the recent advances made in genetics, etiopathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapeutic management of NAFLD, focusing especially on the obesity-related steatotic liver condition.