Hepatic lipotoxicity and the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: the central role of nontriglyceride fatty acid metabolites

Hepatology. 2010 Aug;52(2):774-88. doi: 10.1002/hep.23719.


A significant body of evidence now forces us to rethink the causes of NASH. Once thought to be a disease caused by triglyceride accumulation in hepatocytes with subsequent oxidant stress and lipid peroxidation causing inflammation and fibrosis, new data from animal studies and a limited number of human studies now provide convincing evidence that triglyceride accumulation does not cause insulin resistance or cellular injury in the liver. The lipotoxic liver injury hypothesis for the pathogenesis of NASH suggests that we need to focus our therapeutic efforts on reducing the burden of fatty acids going to the liver or being synthesized in the liver. This can be accomplished by improving insulin sensitivity at the level of adipose tissue to prevent inappropriate peripheral lipolysis and by preventing unnecessary de novo lipogenesis in the liver. Excess carbohydrates are the major substrates for de novo lipogenesis, and thus, reducing carbohydrate consumption through dietary changes and increasing muscle glucose uptake through exercise remain important cornerstones of treatment and prevention of lipotoxic liver injury, a disease hitherto called NASH.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Fatty Acids