Current treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2009 Mar;11(3):188-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2008.00926.x. Epub 2008 Jun 16.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of liver disease in Western World and frequently associated with insulin resistance and overweight and occurs often with type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, NAFLD is not only regarded as a hepatic component of the metabolic syndrome but also as an independent risk factor and a marker for increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Significantly, NAFLD is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and predicts future CVD events independent of age, sex, LDL-cholesterol and features of metabolic syndrome. Although there was initial concern about drug toxicity with NAFLD, increasing evidence suggests that commonly used drugs such as metformin and statins do not cause harm and the thiazolidinediones (TZDs) may even confer a therapeutic benefit in NAFLD. Interestingly, medical and surgical treatments of obesity show potential benefit in treating NAFLD. In this review, we have focused on the safety and therapeutic impact of TZDs, statins, metformins and obesity medications in NAFLD. The potential benefit of bariatric surgery and the role of weight loss per se in treating NAFLD are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / prevention & control*
  • Fatty Liver / drug therapy*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / drug therapy*
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use
  • Weight Loss / drug effects


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Thiazolidinediones