Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents the most common chronic liver disease in western countries, being considered the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. Cumulative lines of evidence suggest that olive oil, used as primary source of fat by Mediterranean populations, may play a key role in the observed health benefits on NAFLD. In this review, we summarize the state of the art of the knowledge on the protective role of both major and minor components of olive oil on lipid metabolism during NAFLD. In particular, the biochemical mechanisms responsible for the increase or decrease in hepatic lipid content are critically analyzed, taking into account that several studies have often provided different and/or conflicting results in animal models fed on olive oil-enriched diet. In addition, new findings that highlight the hypolipidemic and the antisteatotic actions of olive oil phenols are presented. As mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the pathogenesis of NAFLD, the targeting of these organelles with olive oil phenols as a powerful therapeutic approach is also discussed.
Keywords: lipid metabolism; lipogenesis; mitochondria; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; oleic acid; olive oil; phenols.
© 2015 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.