Non-invasive Diagnosis of Fibrosis in Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Anil Arora, Praveen Sharma
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology 2012, 2 (2): 145-55
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in developed as well as in developing countries. Its prevalence continues to rise currently affecting approximately 20-30% of adults and 10% of children in the United States. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease represents a wide spectrum of conditions ranging from fatty liver, which in general follows a benign non-progressive clinical course, to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more serious form of NAFLD that may progress to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. Liver biopsy remains the gold standard for evaluating the degree of hepatic necroinflammation and fibrosis; however, several non-invasive investigations, such as serum biomarkers, have been developed to establish the diagnosis and also to evaluate treatment response. There has been a substantial development of non-invasive risk scores, biomarker panels, and radiological modalities to identify at risk patients with NAFLD without recourse to liver biopsy on a routine basis. Examples include combination of serum markers like NAFLD fibrosis score (NFS), BARD score, fibrometer, FIB4, and non-invasive tools like fibroscan which assess fibrosis in patients with NAFLD. Other markers of fibrosis that have been evaluated include high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, plasma pentraxin 3, interleukin-6, and cytokeratin-18. This review focuses on the methods currently available in daily clinical practice in hepatology and touches briefly on the potential future markers under investigation.

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