Department of Gastroenterology and Metabology, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Toon, Ehime, Japan.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) may progress to cirrhosis, liver failure, and complicated hepatocellular carcinoma. In addition, NAFLD is a risk factor for the development of other serious diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the detection of early-stage NAFLD is important. Many studies have described the factors that predict the presence of NAFLD and its onset, and several markers have been identified. These markers have enabled the identification of high-risk patients and have improved routine medical practice. To prevent advanced disease, clinicians need to have simple markers that predict the onset of NAFLD so that interventions can be started at much earlier stages of disease. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding independent factors, as reported in large studies, that predict the presence of NAFLD and its onset, especially markers that can be used in daily medical practice, such as physical measurements and blood tests.