Global experts in diagnostic medicine, medical physics and image analysis

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major cause of liver disease and now accounts for over 60% of liver patients in Western countries.

As the World Gastroenterology Organization Global Guidelines explain, NAFLD is a condition defined by excessive fat accumulation (steatosis) in the liver (> 5% of liver cells under a microscope).

Excess body weight causes liver fat deposition and chronic inflammation, which can lead to liver cirrhosis as well as diabetes, accelerated heart disease and early death (fatty liver disease (FLD) doubles the risk of heart attack). A subgroup of NAFLD patients (up to 25%) have liver cell injury and inflammation in addition to excessive fat, a condition designated as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Up to 40% of these patients will progress to cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

NASH is widely considered to be the liver expression of the metabolic syndrome, that is, diseases related to diabetes mellitus type 2, insulin resistance, central obesity, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension.

There is already a worldwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity and the figure shows the expected increases of diabetes in different parts of the world, which will closely correlate with rates of NASH.