What is fatty liver disease?

Updated: Apr 12, 2018
  • Author: Emily Tommolino, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Answer

Fatty liver is the accumulation of triglycerides and other fats in the liver cells. The amount of fatty acid in the liver depends on the balance between the processes of delivery and removal. In some patients, fatty liver may be accompanied by hepatic inflammation and liver cell death (steatohepatitis). Potential pathophysiologic mechanisms for fatty liver include the following:

  • Decreased mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation

  • Increased endogenous fatty acid synthesis or enhanced delivery of fatty acids to the liver

  • Deficient incorporation or export of triglycerides as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)

No single pathway of cause and effect has been found. However, some studies show higher levels of activation of Hedgehog pathways in patients with the most advanced fatty liver disease. [1] Tripodi et al reported that in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a procoagulant imbalance progresses from steatosis to metabolic cirrhosis, which may be caused by an increase in factor VIII and a reduction of protein C. [2] The investigators speculated that this imbalance could play a role in the risk for cardiovascular disease and liver fibrosis, conditions commonly associated with NAFLD.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!