CHU de Nice, Unité d’hépatologie, 151 route Saint Antoine de Ginestière, 06202 Nice, France
INSERM, U1065, Equipe 8 « Complications hépatiques de l’obésité », Nice, France
Université de la Côte d’Azur, Nice, France
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major health problem which is now recognized by governmental agencies. NAFLD is a spectrum of diseases including non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH) and its complications: fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Worldwide, 25% of the general population have NAFL, and 1.5 to 6.5% have NASH. These high frequencies are linked to the epidemic of overweight and obesity. As for obesity, NAFLD is a complex and heterogeneous disease. The mechanisms, the clinical occurrence, the associated diseases and the natural history imply multiple genetic and environmental factors. Insulin-resistance may play a central but not exclusive role in the occurrence of NASH. NAFLD such as obesity and type 2 diabetes is a multisystem disease associated with various complications (cardio-vascular events, hepatic and extra hepatic cancers, chronic kidney disease…).
Advances in the knowledge of the mechanisms of NAFLD led to the development of new pharmacological or non pharmacological treatments, which are undergoing clinical trials.
The management of patients with NAFLD must be well structured, particularly because the liver biopsy, which is still the gold standard, cannot be performed in all suspected subjects.
There is a need to develop and validate new non-invasive tools based on analyses of serum or on physical assessment that allow reliable assessment of fibrosis, the NASH and steatosis. Their availability will allow easy screening, diagnosis and follow-up of patients.