Treatment strategies in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Mar;2(3):148-55. doi: 10.1038/ncpgasthep0116.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly recognized health problem. Increased fat accumulation in the liver is observed in 20-30% of the population in the Western world, and in approximately 10% of this cohort it is associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which is characterized by inflammation and fibrosis. Disease presentation of NAFLD ranges from asymptomatic disease to cirrhosis with the complication of liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. NAFLD is suspected on the basis of various clinical aspects (an elevated alanine aminotransferase concentration, presence of obesity and diabetes) that alone are not sufficient to establish diagnosis or prognosis. The major diagnostic procedure is liver biopsy, which allows assessment of liver injury. In most cases, NAFLD is associated with insulin resistance, which is therefore the target of most current NAFLD treatment modalities. Various treatment strategies such as weight loss and/or exercise, thiazolidinediones, metformin, lipid-lowering agents and antioxidants have been studied. So far, no single intervention has convincingly improved liver histology. It is recommended that patients at high risk of developing advanced liver disease, and who are not part of controlled studies, should receive nutritional counseling and take physical exercise to achieve moderate weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Biopsy
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Antioxidants
  • Hypolipidemic Agents