What is NAFLD?
NAFLD encompasses a spectrum of liver disease associated with insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity. It ranges from excess fat in the liver (steatosis), to fat in combination with inflammation and liver cell injury (steatohepatitis), to cirrhosis and its complications, liver cancer in particular. Cirrhosis describes the fibrosis or scarring that occurs as part of a wound healing response to non alcoholic steatohepatitis, which is commonly called NASH.
Context and Impact
NAFLD is a major health problem and rapidly becoming one the most common liver diseases worldwide.
The prevalence of NAFLD in the general population of Western countries is 20-30%.
Diagnosis and Prognosis
Currently the only way of diagnosing NASH is by liver biopsy, an invasive procedure, unsuitable for the screening of at-risk individuals.
The development of non-invasive strategies for diagnosis and staging is therefore a priority for the optimal management of this disease, as is the validation of consensual pathological classification.
The further characterization of severe complications of NASH (cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma) and of the interaction with cardiovascular outcomes is urgently needed.