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Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2013 Apr;12(2):125-35.

Therapeutic approaches to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: past achievements and future challenges.

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Department of Anatomy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.



Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a leading cause of chronic liver injury and mortality in Western countries and China. However, as to date, there is no direct and effective therapy for this disease. The aim of this review is to analyze the key progress and challenges of main current therapeutic approaches in NAFLD.


We carried out a PubMed search of English-language articles relevant to NAFLD therapy.


There are two major therapeutic strategies for NAFLD treatment: (1) lifestyle interventions (including weight reduction, dietary modification and physical exercise) and (2) pharmaceutical therapies. Lifestyle interventions, particularly chronic and moderate intensity exercise, are the most effective and recognized clinical therapies for NAFLD. For pharmaceutical therapies, although their effects and mechanisms have been extensively investigated in laboratory studies, they still need further tests and investigations in clinical human trials.


Future advancement of NAFLD therapy should focus on the mechanistic studies on cell based and animal models and human clinical trials of exercise, as well as the combination of lifestyle intervention and pharmaceutical therapy specifically targeting main signaling pathways related to lipid metabolism, oxidative stress and inflammation.

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