Fructose and the Liver

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 28;22(13):6969. doi: 10.3390/ijms22136969.


Chronic diseases represent a major challenge in world health. Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of disturbances affecting several organs, and it has been proposed to be a liver-centered condition. Fructose overconsumption may result in insulin resistance, oxidative stress, inflammation, elevated uric acid levels, increased blood pressure, and increased triglyceride concentrations in both the blood and liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a term widely used to describe excessive fatty infiltration in the liver in the absence of alcohol, autoimmune disorders, or viral hepatitis; it is attributed to obesity, high sugar and fat consumption, and sedentarism. If untreated, NAFLD can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), characterized by inflammation and mild fibrosis in addition to fat infiltration and, eventually, advanced scar tissue deposition, cirrhosis, and finally liver cancer, which constitutes the culmination of the disease. Notably, fructose is recognized as a major mediator of NAFLD, as a significant correlation between fructose intake and the degree of inflammation and fibrosis has been found in preclinical and clinical studies. Moreover, fructose is a risk factor for liver cancer development. Interestingly, fructose induces a number of proinflammatory, fibrogenic, and oncogenic signaling pathways that explain its deleterious effects in the body, especially in the liver.

Keywords: NLRP3; fructose; inflammation; liver; oxidative stress; uric acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fructose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Uric Acid / metabolism


  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Uric Acid
  • Fructose