Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Improvement in liver histological analysis with weight loss

Hepatology. 2004 Jun;39(6):1647-54. doi: 10.1002/hep.20251.


The effect of significant weight loss on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease remains unclear. In this case series of 36 selected obese patients, we examined the effect of weight loss on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatic fibrosis. These 36 patients (11 males, 25 females) had paired liver biopsies, the first at the time of laparoscopic adjustable gastric band placement and the second after weight loss. Second biopsies were obtained from two groups: those requiring a subsequent laparoscopic procedure (n = 19) and those with index biopsy score of 2 or greater for zone 3-centric hepatic fibrosis (n = 17). All biopsies were scored, blinded to the patient's identity and clinical condition, for individual histological features and for NASH stage and grade. Initial biopsies demonstrated NASH in 23 patients and steatosis in 12 patients. Repeat biopsies were taken at 25.6 +/- 10 months (range, 9-51 months) after band placement. Mean weight loss was 34.0 +/- 17 kg, and percentage of excess weight loss was 52 +/- 17%. There were major improvements in lobular steatosis, necroinflammatory changes, and fibrosis at the second biopsy (P <.001 for all). Portal abnormalities remained unchanged. Only four of the repeat biopsies fulfilled the criteria for NASH. There were 18 patients with an initial fibrosis score of 2 or more compared with 3 patients at follow-up (P <.001). Those with the metabolic syndrome (n = 23) had more extensive changes before surgery and greater improvement with weight loss. In conclusion, weight loss after surgery provides major improvement or resolution of obesity and metabolic syndrome-associated abnormal liver histological features in severely obese subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fatty Liver / complications
  • Fatty Liver / pathology*
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Weight Loss*