Focus on alcoholic liver disease: from nosography to treatment

Letiția Adela Maria Streba, Cristin Constantin Vere, Costin Teodor Streba, Marius Eugen Ciurea
World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 2014 July 7, 20 (25): 8040-7
Abusive alcohol intake currently ranks as a major cause of liver disease, and is associated with significant mortality worldwide. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) generically defines liver abnormalities ranging from liver steatosis to the end-stages of disease such as liver cirrhosis. Information regarding the precise incidence and prevalence of ALD is still limited by a lack of large population-based studies and by the absence of large systematic reviews of all epidemiological data available. However, existing collected data show an overall increase in the number of alcohol abusers and alcohol-related liver disease. The burden exerted on medical systems worldwide is significant, with hospitalization and management costs rising constantly over the years. A great number of all cirrhosis-related deaths in Europe and a significant percentage worldwide are associated with alcohol consumption. The main possible risk factors for ALD are the amount and duration of alcohol abuse, patterns of drinking and the type of alcoholic beverage consumed. However, ALD does not progress to cirrhosis in all patients, therefore a series of additional factors are implicated. Even though insufficiently studied, genetic factors are generally regarded as highly important, and the presence of comorbidities and dietary habits seem to play a role in disease onset and progression. This lack of clear pathophysiological data further translates in the absence of definite treatment for ALD and shall prove challenging in the coming years. In this article, we aimed to briefly review epidemiologic data on the burden of ALD, risk factors, clinical and nosographic as well as therapeutic aspects of this disease. Without attempting to be exhaustive, this short topic highlight emphasizes each point and may serve as a general guidance tool in the complicated literature related to ALD.

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