Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): Pathogenesis and Noninvasive Diagnosis

Biomedicines. 2021 Dec 22;10(1):15. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10010015.


The global prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), as it is now known, has gradually increased. NAFLD is a disease with a spectrum of stages ranging from simple fatty liver (steatosis) to a severe form of steatosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which could progress to irreversible liver injury (fibrosis) and organ failure, and in some cases hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although a liver biopsy remains the gold standard for accurate detection of this condition, it is unsuitable for clinical screening due to a higher risk of death. There is thus an increased need to find alternative techniques or tools for accurate diagnosis. Early detection for NASH matters for patients because NASH is the marker for severe disease progression. This review summarizes the current noninvasive tools for NAFLD diagnosis and their performance. We also discussed potential and newer alternative tools for diagnosing NAFLD.

Keywords: MAFLD; NAFLD; biomarkers; diagnosis; extracellular vesicles; noncoding RNAs.

Publication types

  • Review