Commonly used animal models of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2009 Jun;8(3):233-40.


Background: Animal models are an essential tool in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) studies. Ideally, such models should reflect the etiology, disease progression, and the established pathology of human NASH. To date, no single animal model displays the range of histopathologic and pathophysiologic features associated with human NASH. The currently available models do not or only partially reflect the real picture of human NASH. In particular, insulin resistance and fibrosing steatohepatitis are rarely reproduced by the currently available models. Consequently, it is necessary to establish NASH models that can best mimic the real etiology, disease progression, and pathogenesis of human NASH.

Data sources: We reviewed the major currently available animal models published in the literature (PubMed) and briefly commented on the pros and cons of these models.

Result: Three major categories of animal models, genetic, dietary, and combination models, were reviewed and discussed.

Conclusions: Animal models are not only useful in revealing the etiology of NASH, but also are important platforms for the assessment of therapeutic strategies. Currently available models do not reflect the full picture of NASH in patients. Better animal models are needed for a full understanding of human NASH and the development of efficient therapies for this condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Disease Progression
  • Fatty Liver* / etiology
  • Fatty Liver* / genetics
  • Fatty Liver* / pathology
  • Fatty Liver* / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / pathology