JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

The clinical features, diagnosis and natural history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Arthur J McCullough
Clinics in Liver Disease 2004, 8 (3): 521-33, viii
15331061
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has emerged as the most common chronic liver disease in the United States. The histologic spectrum of NAFLD ranges from steatosis liver alone to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is the most serious form of NAFLD. NASH is a progressive fibrotic disease, in which cirrhosis and liver-related death occur in up to 20% and 12%, respectively, over a 10-year period. NASH-associated cirrhosis also can develop into subacute liver failure, progress to hepatocellular carcinoma, and reoccur post-transplantation. In contrast, steatosis alone has a more benign clinical course, although progression to cirrhosis has occurred in 3% of these patients. The major risk factors for fibrosis include diabetes or obesity, an aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase ratio of greater than 1, age older than 50, and hepatic histology.

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