Liver Transplantation for Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis: Pathophysiology of Recurrence and Clinical Challenges

Dig Dis Sci. 2019 Dec;64(12):3413-3430. doi: 10.1007/s10620-019-05716-1. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is the fastest-growing indication for the liver transplant and a leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma among patients listed for liver transplantation in the USA. Post-transplant nonalcoholic hepatic steatosis and steatohepatitis are frequent complications of liver transplantation. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis poses a significant challenge in both pre- and post-transplant period due to its association with metabolic syndrome, coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. While optimal therapy is not yet available in the post-liver transplant setting, lifestyle interventions continue to remain as the mainstay of therapy for post-transplant nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Early recognition with protocol biopsies and noninvasive modalities, along with modification of known risk factors, are the most effective methods to curtail the progression of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in the absence of FDA-approved pharmacologic therapy.

Keywords: Cryptogenic cirrhosis; Immunosuppression; Liver transplantation; Metabolic syndrome; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Obesity-related liver disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / surgery*
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / genetics
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / surgery*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / genetics
  • Postoperative Complications / metabolism
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Survival Rate