Fructose and NAFLD: The Multifaceted Aspects of Fructose Metabolism

Nutrients. 2017 Mar 3;9(3):230. doi: 10.3390/nu9030230.


Among various factors, such as an unhealthy diet or a sedentarity lifestyle, excessive fructose consumption is known to favor nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as fructose is both a substrate and an inducer of hepatic de novo lipogenesis. The present review presents some well-established mechanisms and new clues to better understand the pathophysiology of fructose-induced NAFLD. Beyond its lipogenic effect, fructose intake is also at the onset of hepatic inflammation and cellular stress, such as oxidative and endoplasmic stress, that are key factors contributing to the progression of simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Beyond its hepatic effects, this carbohydrate may exert direct and indirect effects at the peripheral level. Excessive fructose consumption is associated, for example, with the release by the liver of several key mediators leading to alterations in the communication between the liver and the gut, muscles, and adipose tissue and to disease aggravation. These multifaceted aspects of fructose properties are in part specific to fructose, but are also shared in part with sucrose and glucose present in energy- dense beverages and foods. All these aspects must be taken into account in the development of new therapeutic strategies and thereby to better prevent NAFLD.

Keywords: fructose; gut; liver; muscle; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress*
  • Fructose / adverse effects*
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipogenesis*
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / immunology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy
  • Organ Specificity
  • Oxidative Stress*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fructose