Natural History of NAFLD

J Clin Med. 2021 Mar 10;10(6):1161. doi: 10.3390/jcm10061161.


The epidemiology and the current burden of chronic liver disease are changing globally, with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) becoming the most frequent cause of liver disease in close relationship with the global epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The clinical phenotypes of NAFLD are very heterogeneous in relationship with multiple pathways involved in the disease progression. In the absence of a specific treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), it is important to understand the natural history of the disease, to identify and to optimize the control of factors that are involved in disease progression. In this paper we propose a critical analysis of factors that are involved in the progression of the liver damage and the occurrence of extra-hepatic complications (cardiovascular diseases, extra hepatic cancer) in patients with NAFLD. We also briefly discuss the impact of the heterogeneity of the clinical phenotype of NAFLD on the clinical practice globally and at the individual level.

Keywords: fatty liver; fibrosis; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review