Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2002; 2(1):11-9.RG
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a broad clinicopathologic spectrum ranging from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which may advance to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. Steatosis alone does not appear to be progressive. The prevalence of NAFLD averages 20% and that of NASH, 2% to 3%, making these conditions the most common liver diseases in the United States. NAFLD is associated with insulin resistance, which may be evident clinically with obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hypertriglyceridemia. The pathogenesis of NAFLD consists of hepatic fat accumulation and oxidative stress with formation of free radicals. The clinical diagnosis is based on the presence of the insulin resistance syndrome and exclusion of alcohol abuse as well as viral, autoimmune, genetic, and drug-induced liver diseases. Liver biopsy is essential for diagnosis but may not be necessary for clinical management. Treatment is aimed at correcting the risk factors for NAFLD and using potentially hepatoprotective agents. Ursodeoxycholic acid and betaine appear particularly promising in early trials.