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Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jan 13;17(1). pii: E97. doi: 10.3390/ijms17010097.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Pros and Cons of Histologic Systems of Evaluation.

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Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8118, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The diagnostic phenotype of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)--in particular, the most significant form in terms of prognosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)--continues to rely on liver tissue evaluation, in spite of remarkable advances in non-invasive algorithms developed from serum-based tests and imaging-based or sonographically-based tests for fibrosis or liver stiffness. The most common tissue evaluation remains percutaneous liver biopsy; considerations given to the needle size and the location of the biopsy have the potential to yield the most representative tissue for evaluation. The pathologist's efforts are directed to not only global diagnosis, but also assessment of severity of injury. Just as in other forms of chronic liver disease, these assessments can be divided into necroinflammatory activity, and fibrosis with parenchymal remodeling, in order to separately analyze potentially reversible (grade) and non-reversible (stage) lesions. These concepts formed the bases for current methods of evaluating the lesions that collectively comprise the phenotypic spectra of NAFLD. Four extant methods have specific applications; there are pros and cons to each, and this forms the basis of the review.


nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; pathology

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