Role of cytokines and chemokines in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Feb 28;18(8):727-35. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i8.727.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) includes a variety of histological conditions (ranging from liver steatosis and steatohepatitis, to fibrosis and hepatocarcinoma) that are characterized by an increased fat content within the liver. The accumulation/deposition of fat within the liver is essential for diagnosis of NAFLD and might be associated with alterations in the hepatic and systemic inflammatory state. Although it is still unclear if each histological entity represents a different disease or rather steps of the same disease, inflammatory processes in NAFLD might influence its pathophysiology and prognosis. In particular, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (the most inflamed condition in NAFLDs, which more frequently evolves towards chronic and serious liver diseases) is characterized by a marked activation of inflammatory cells and the upregulation of several soluble inflammatory mediators. Among several mediators, cytokines and chemokines might play a pivotal active role in NAFLD and are considered as potential therapeutic targets. In this review, we will update evidence from both basic research and clinical studies on the potential role of cytokines and chemokines in the pathophysiology of NAFLD.

Keywords: Chemokine; Cytokine; Inflammation; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokines / immunology*
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Fatty Liver / immunology*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines