Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now recognized as the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Its prevalence has increased to more than 30% of adults in developed countries and its incidence is still rising. The majority of patients with NAFLD have simple steatosis but in up to one third of patients, NAFLD progresses to its more severe form nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is characterized by liver inflammation and injury thereby determining the risk to develop liver fibrosis and cancer. NAFLD is considered the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. However, the liver is not only a passive target but affects the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome and its complications. Conversely, pathophysiological changes in other organs such as in the adipose tissue, the intestinal barrier or the immune system have been identified as triggers and promoters of NAFLD progression. This article details the pathogenesis of NAFLD along with the current state of its diagnosis and treatment.
Keywords: Metabolic syndrome; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.