Pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

World J Hepatol. 2014 Nov 27;6(11):800-11. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v6.i11.800.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects approximately one-third of the population worldwide, and its incidence continues to increase with the increasing prevalence of other metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes. As non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can progress to liver cirrhosis, its treatment is attracting greater attention. The pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is closely associated with insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, especially hypertriglyceridemia. Increased serum levels of free fatty acid and glucose can cause oxidative stress in the liver and peripheral tissue, leading to ectopic fat accumulation, especially in the liver. In this review, we summarize the mechanism underlying the progression of hepatic steatosis to steatohepatitis and cirrhosis. We also discuss established drugs that are already being used to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, in addition to newly discovered agents, with respect to their mechanisms of drug action, focusing mainly on hepatic insulin resistance. As well, we review clinical data that demonstrate the efficacy of these drugs, together with improvements in biochemical or histological parameters.

Keywords: Drugs; Insulin resistance; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review