Hepatic steatosis, low-grade chronic inflammation and hormone/growth factor/adipokine imbalance

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Oct 14;16(38):4773-83. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i38.4773.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a further expression of metabolic syndrome, strictly linked to obesity and diabetes mellitus, is characterized by insulin resistance (IR), elevated serum levels of free fatty acids and fatty infiltration of the liver, which is known as hepatic steatosis. Hepatocyte apoptosis is a key feature of this disease and correlates with its severity. Free-fatty-acid-induced toxicity represents one of mechanisms for the pathogenesis of NAFLD and hormones, growth factors and adipokines influence also play a key role. This review highlights the various pathways that contribute to the development of hepatic steatosis. Circulating concentrations of inflammatory cytokines are reckoned to be the most important factor in causing and maintaining IR. Low-grade chronic inflammation is fundamental in the progression of NAFLD toward higher risk cirrhotic states.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology*
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors


  • Adipokines
  • Hormones
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins