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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a spectrum of disease, extending from simple steatosis to inflammation and fibrosis with a significant risk for the development of cirrhosis. It is highly prevalent and is associated with significant adverse outcomes both through liver-specific morbidity and mortality but, perhaps more important, through adverse cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes. It is closely associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity, and both of these conditions drive progressive disease toward the more advanced stages. The mechanisms that govern hepatic lipid accumulation and the predisposition to inflammation and fibrosis are still not fully understood but reflect a complex interplay between metabolic target tissues including adipose and skeletal muscle, and immune and inflammatory cells. The ability to make an accurate assessment of disease stage (that relates to clinical outcome) can also be challenging. While liver biopsy is still regarded as the gold-standard investigative tool, there is an extensive literature on the search for novel noninvasive biomarkers and imaging modalities that aim to accurately reflect the stage of underlying disease. Finally, although no therapies are currently licensed for the treatment of NAFLD, there are interventions that appear to have proven efficacy in randomized controlled trials as well as an extensive emerging therapeutic landscape of new agents that target many of the fundamental pathophysiological processes that drive NAFLD. It is highly likely that over the next few years, new treatments with a specific license for the treatment of NAFLD will become available.

Original publication




Journal article


Endocr Rev

Publication Date





NAFLD, NASH, diabetes, liver, obesity