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J Pathol. 2017 Jan;241(1):36-44. doi: 10.1002/path.4829. Epub 2016 Nov 22.

Animal models of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: current perspectives and recent advances.

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Institute of Digestive Disease and the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PR China.
Faculty of Medicine, SHHO College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PR China.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a continuous spectrum of diseases characterized by excessive lipid accumulation in hepatocytes. NAFLD progresses from simple liver steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and, in more severe cases, to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Because of its growing worldwide prevalence, various animal models that mirror both the histopathology and the pathophysiology of each stage of human NAFLD have been developed. The selection of appropriate animal models continues to be one of the key questions faced in this field. This review presents a critical analysis of the histopathology and pathogenesis of NAFLD, the most frequently used and recently developed animal models for each stage of NAFLD and NAFLD-induced HCC, the main mechanisms involved in the experimental pathogenesis of NAFLD in different animal models, and a brief summary of recent therapeutic targets found by the use of animal models. Integrating the data from human disease with those from animal studies indicates that, although current animal models provide critical guidance in understanding specific stages of NAFLD pathogenesis and progression, further research is necessary to develop more accurate models that better mimic the disease spectrum, in order to provide both increased mechanistic understanding and identification/testing of novel therapeutic approaches. © 2016 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


animal model; disease histopathology; hepatocellular carcinoma; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

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