Source aDepartment of Medicine I bCenter for Molecular and Translational Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany cDivision of Gastroenterology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and especially its inflammatory variant nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) have become a major challenge to healthcare systems worldwide because of the increasing prevalence of its major risk factors obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are closely linked to overeating, physical inactivity, and the metabolic syndrome.
RECENT FINDINGS: Between 10 and 20% of patients with NAFL develop (NASH), which can progress to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The overall mortality in these patients is significantly increased because of both cardiovascular and liver-related complications. Sustained weight loss by diet and exercise, which is the most effective therapeutic measure, is only achieved by a minority of patients, having led to a great yet unmet need for medical therapies of NASH.
SUMMARY: Pharmacological therapies should target the underlying pathophysiology that involves insulin resistance, enhanced peripheral lipolysis and release of free fatty acids, oxidative stress, accumulation of toxic lipids, adipose tissue inflammation, sensitization of hepatocytes toward apoptotic cell death, and fibrogenesis. However, pharmacological therapy that is well tolerated, cost-effective, and poses an acceptable risk-to-benefit ratio has still to be identified. This review summarizes the current and promising treatment options and their implications for future research and clinical practice.