Fatty Liver Disease -- It's More Than Alcohol and Obesity

Heiner Wedemeyer, MD, Michael P. Manns, MD


July 23, 2003

In This Article


Fatty liver disease has received markedly increasing attention in recent years.[1] This may be explained by the fact that nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is more and more frequently recognized as being a condition that potentially could lead to advanced liver fibrosis in a substantial proportion of cases. Recently it has been estimated that up to 9 million individuals in the United States suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, in only a minority of patients can steatosis be explained by alcohol consumption or viral infections. Our knowledge of disease pathogenesis has increased significantly in the last decade, potentially leading to new therapeutic options that are currently being explored in clinical trials.

At this year's meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), which initially was to have been held in Istanbul, Turkey, in March but was postponed and reconvened in Geneva from July 3-6 because of world circumstances, NAFLD was one of the major topics of focus besides viral hepatitis. The EASL President's premeeting, entitled "Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: From Innocent Bystander to Progressive Fibrosis and Cirrhosis," was reflective of the latter. In addition, several interesting new studies were presented during the core meeting proceedings that investigated both basic and clinical aspects of steatosis and steatohepatitis.

This report discusses a select subset of these presentations that we believe contribute significantly to our understanding, diagnosis, and therapy of alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


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