Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/steatohepatitis: epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical presentation and treatment.

Dig Dis 2012 20;30(2):158-62. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Rijeka, Croatia.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic hepatic disorder in Western countries, with a prevalence of 20-30%. NAFLD comprises 'silent liver disease', in which simple steatosis is the only histological finding and which is benign in course, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which is characterized by hepatocellular injury and inflammation with or without fibrosis. NAFLD is clinically important, because even benign fatty liver can progress to steatohepatitis in many patients, which can lead to liver cirrhosis and its complications and hepatocellular carcinoma. NAFLD is a hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome; it is closely related to other clinical features of metabolic syndrome, and thus to cardiovascular morbidity. There are several different noninvasive techniques for formal diagnosis and follow-up, but liver biopsy remains the gold standard. The most important therapeutic strategies include lifestyle changes, including changes in dietary habits aimed at weight loss and blood pressure regulation, with a consequent decrease in insulin resistance. For some patients with NAFLD/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, pharmacological treatment is the best option, although further studies are needed to confirm its efficacy and tolerability.

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October 2012
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