Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is rapidly becoming the leading cause of advanced liver disease in Western countries. NAFLD is defined in the presence of increased hepatic fat content, which is mainly stored under the form of neutral lipids within intracellular droplets and is not explained by at risk alcohol intake. In order to understand the pathogenesis, monitor the progression and find novel treatments for this condition, previous research efforts mainly addressed the role of inflammation. However, very recent data seem to suggest that hepatic lipid accumulation may be involved in NAFLD pathogenesis by driving secondary inflammation and fibrosis progression. Here, we will briefly review the novel results derived from natural history, genetics, imaging studies and therapeutic trials that support the notion that hepatic fat accumulation may represent a major clinical outcome and therapeutic target for NAFLD. Indeed, prospective and genetic data are consistent with hepatic fat being a driver of NAFLD progression. Furthermore, new technologies will render possible to monitor hepatic fat content without the need of invasive assessment, thereby allowing to identify patients at higher risk, and to monitor the response to drugs that act by decreasing hepatic lipid accumulation.
- clinical outcome
- non-invasive assessment
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas