NASH Therapy: omega 3 supplementation, vitamin E, insulin sensitizers and statin drugs.Clin Mol Hepatol 2017; 23(2):103-108CM
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the more aggressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NASH can progress to hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis, portal hypertension and primary liver cancer. Therapy is evolving with a substantial number of trials of promising new agents now in progress. In this article however, we will examine data for several older forms of therapy which have been fairly extensively studied over the years: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) supplements, vitamin E, insulin sensitizing agents with a focus on pioglitazone and statin agents. Early interest in PUFA derived from their potential benefit in cardio-metabolic disease and the close association of NAFLD/NASH with Metabolic Syndrome. Results have been variable although most studies show reduction of liver fat without other major effects and their effects are influenced by concomitant weight loss and underlying genetic factors. Vitamin E has had some efficacy in pediatric NASH but questionable efficacy in even mild NASH among adults. Pioglitazone has shown significant histological benefit in a number of trials but concern over side-effects (especially weight gain) have dampened enthusiasm. A newer insulin sensitizer, liraglutide, has also shown promise in a small randomized, controlled trial. Very limited data exists regarding the histological effects of the statins in NASH and these agents appear to be fairly neutral with neither clear cut benefit nor detriment. Their use is best guided by cardiovascular risks rather than liver histology.