Current Therapeutical Approaches Targeting Lipid Metabolism in NAFLD

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 13;24(16):12748. doi: 10.3390/ijms241612748.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD, including nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)) is a high-prevalence disorder, affecting about 1 billion people, which can evolve to more severe conditions like cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. NAFLD is often concomitant with conditions of the metabolic syndrome, such as central obesity and insulin-resistance, but a specific drug able to revert NAFL and prevent its evolution towards NASH is still lacking. With the liver being a key organ in metabolic processes, the potential therapeutic strategies are many, and range from directly targeting the lipid metabolism to the prevention of tissue inflammation. However, side effects have been reported for the drugs tested up to now. In this review, different approaches to the treatment of NAFLD are presented, including newer therapies and ongoing clinical trials. Particular focus is placed on the reverse cholesterol transport system and on the agonists for nuclear factors like PPAR and FXR, but also drugs initially developed for other conditions such as incretins and thyromimetics along with validated natural compounds that have anti-inflammatory potential. This work provides an overview of the different therapeutic strategies currently being tested for NAFLD, other than, or along with, the recommendation of weight loss.

Keywords: cirrhosis; farnesoid X receptor (FXR); natural compounds; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH); peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / drug therapy