The efficacy and safety of statins for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Dig Liver Dis. 2015 Jan;47(1):4-11. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2014.07.170. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is an emerging liver disease in Western countries and the most frequent cause of incidental elevation of serum liver enzymes. Dyslipidaemia is frequently observed in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and treatment of dyslipidaemia plays a critical role in the overall management of these patients. Moreover, coronary artery disease remains the most common cause of death. Statins are effective lipid-lowering agents, associated with a lowering the risk of cardiovascular events in several interventional randomized clinical trials. However, statins are often underused in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and many physicians are concerned about the prescription of statins to patients with unexplained persistent elevation of liver enzymes or active liver disease. Based on currently available data, statin therapy, at low-to-moderate doses, seems to be safe and has low liver toxicity. Treatment of dyslipidaemia in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is recommended and may also improve liver function tests. In these patients, the risks of not taking statins could outweigh the risks of taking the drug. Conversely, the usefulness of statins for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease/non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is still a matter of debate and randomized clinical trials of adequate size and duration are required.

Keywords: Dyslipidaemia; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Safety; Statin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / complications
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors