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Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Apr;6(4):236-47. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2009.33.

Endocrine and liver interaction: the role of endocrine pathways in NASH.

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Dipartimento di Endocrinologia, Metabolismo e Geriatria, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, NOCSAE-Baggiovara, Modena, MO, Italy.


This article reviews evidence that causally links hormonal disorders with hepatobiliary disease, and gives particular focus to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The downstream mechanisms by which endocrine disturbances cause liver disease might be similar to those involved in the development of primary liver disease. Hypothyroidism, for example, might lead to NASH, cirrhosis and potentially liver cancer via the development of hyperlipidemia and obesity. Patients with growth hormone deficiency have a metabolic-syndrome-like phenotype that is also associated with the development of NASH. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common endocrine disorder that is often associated with insulin resistance, the metabolic syndrome, altered levels of liver enzymes and the development of NASH. Recent findings support a role of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate deficiency in the development of advanced NASH. In addition, adrenal failure is increasingly reported in patients with end stage liver disease and in patients who have received a liver transplant, which suggests a bidirectional relationship between liver and endocrine functions. Clinicians should, therefore, be aware of the potential role of endocrine disorders in patients with cryptogenic liver disease and of the effects of liver function on the endocrine system.

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