Relationship between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and kidney function: a communication between two organs that needs further exploration

Arab J Gastroenterol. 2012 Dec;13(4):161-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajg.2012.06.010. Epub 2012 Sep 10.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now regarded as hepatic component of the metabolic syndrome. In addition, NAFLD has emerged as a growing public health problem worldwide and an important challenge for health authorities. NAFLD is associated with insulin resistance and hyperlipidaemia and this appears as the potential pathogenic role of NAFLD in the development and progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Interestingly, NAFLD and CKD may share common pathogenic mechanisms like obesity, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension and inflammation. Importantly, the association between NAFLD and CKD is also being shown to be independent of obesity, hypertension, and other potentially confounding features of the metabolic syndrome, and it occurs both in patients without diabetes and in those with diabetes. How the liver communicates with kidney in individuals with NAFLD is not well known and indeed an urgent research is needed to further elucidate the complex and intertwined mechanisms that link NAFLD and CKD. One potential pathway for future exploration may be inflammatory mediators in NAFLD that may lead to deterioration in renal function. In addition, large clinical studies are needed to study the impact of NAFLD on the progression of CKD and in particular during dialysis and transplant and importantly how treatment of NAFLD and weight loss will have reversible potential benefit in improving renal function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Liver / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / etiology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology*