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Dig Liver Dis. 2006 Nov;38(11):789-801. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

Treatment of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: current views and perspectives.

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2nd University of Naples, Gastroenterology Unit, via Pansini 5, Naples 80131, Italy.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is considered a component of the metabolic syndrome associated with obesity. Problems still exist concerning non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients in clinical practice, for example: (a) how to diagnose non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and its type; (b) how to select patients candidate to treatment; (c) how to treat selected patients. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease includes steatosis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, but only non-alcoholic steatohepatitis evolves into cirrhosis and the absolute risk of mortality for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is low. As yet, no tools, other than liver biopsy, are available to differentiate the various types of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Many drugs are, currently, under study to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, even if well-performed trials are until necessary to define the best treatment. At the moment, the entity of the problem and the characteristics of patients frequently put the physician, in clinical practice, to choose the therapeutic approach arbitrarily which is considered more effective for each individual patient. Probably the future will consider the possibility of treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with more than one drug, by considering the various aspects and degree of this syndrome. Actually each physician should select the individual treatment on the basis of his/her knowledge and experience, by never forgetting the old saying 'primum non nocere'. However, the epidemiological entity of the problem, the characteristics of the patients, generally young, the frequent lack of clinical evidence of involvement of the liver, are all the factors that require vast well-performed clinical trials in order to define the best therapeutic approach for each individual patient.

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