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The blind men see the elephant-the many faces of fatty liver disease

Author(s): Madhusudana Girija Sanal

Journal: World Journal of Gastroenterology
ISSN 1007-9327

Volume: 14;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 831;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease | Insulin resistance | Lipid homeostasis | Primate evolution | Lipid channels | Lipoprotein | Adipokines | Nuclear receptors | Bile acid metabolism | Personalized medicine

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a group of diseases with excess fat in liver in the absence of a poorly defined limit of alcohol consumption. Most common variety, a universal public health problem, is associated with insulin resistance caused by a host of genetic and epigenetic defects modulated by life style and environmental factors. In fact the term NAFLD is loose to incorporate so many etiologies except alcoholism and few other etiologies, presenting as fat in liver. However as a sign fatty liver is very important in predicting the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cirrhosis and cancer. Abnormal fat accumulation can result from several defects in nuclear receptors associated with lipid sensing, synthesis and oxidation like LXR, FXR, SREBP, ChREBP and PPAR; defects in the lipid influx-efflux channels, insulin signaling, proteins involved in fatty acid catabolism, defects in adipose tissue development and function, inappropriate nutrition and finally defects in neural regulatory mechanisms. The progress of the disease is determined by the basic defects which results in fat accumulation, an individual’s immunological response to the accumulated fat and its derivatives and the oxidant stress response. Congregation of unrelated genetic defects under same diagnosis ‘NAFLD’ can result in inefficient patient management. Further studies are required to understand the molecular basis of fatty liver to enable a personalized management of diseases presenting as fatty liver in the absence of alcohol abuse.

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