Mitochondrial dynamics and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): new perspectives for a fairy-tale ending?

Miriam Longo, Marica Meroni, Erika Paolini, Chiara Macchi, Paola Dongiovanni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) includes a broad spectrum of liver dysfunctions and it is predicted to become the primary cause of liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles involved in multiple metabolic/bioenergetic pathways in the liver. Emerging evidence outlined that hepatic mitochondria adapt in number and functionality in response to external cues, as high caloric intake and obesity, by modulating mitochondrial biogenesis, and maladaptive mitochondrial response has been described from the early stages of NAFLD. Indeed, mitochondrial plasticity is lost in progressive NAFLD and these organelles may assume an aberrant phenotype to drive or contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis. Severe alimentary regimen and physical exercise represent the cornerstone for NAFLD care, although the low patients’ compliance is urging towards the discovery of novel pharmacological treatments. Mitochondrial-targeted drugs aimed to recover mitochondrial lifecycle and to modulate oxidative stress are becoming attractive molecules to be potentially introduced for NAFLD management. Although the path guiding the switch from bench to bedside remains tortuous, the study of mitochondrial dynamics is providing intriguing perspectives for future NAFLD healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154708
JournalMetabolism: Clinical and Experimental
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Genetics
  • HCC
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Mitochondrial-based strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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