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World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Nov 7;22(41):9039-9043.

Emerging role of obeticholic acid in the management of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Evangelia Makri, Konstantinos Tziomalos, First Propedeutic Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, AHEPA Hospital, 54636 Thessaloniki, Greece.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the commonest chronic liver disease and its prevalence is increasing driven by the pandemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis and is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and hepatocellular cancer. Diet and exercise are limited by suboptimal long-term adherence in patients with NAFLD. On the other hand, current pharmacological treatment of NAFLD has limited efficacy and unfavorable safety profile. In this context, obeticholic acid (OCA), a selective agonist of the farnesoid X receptors, might represent a useful option in these patients. Preclinical studies suggest that OCA improves hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis. A proof-of-concept study and the randomized, placebo-controlled Farnesoid X Receptor Ligand Obeticholic Acid in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis Treatment (FLINT) trial also showed improvements in liver histology in patients with NAFLD who received OCA. Weight loss and reduction in blood pressure were also observed. However, the effects of OCA on insulin resistance are conflicting and the lipid profile is adversely affected by this agent. In addition, pruritus is frequently observed during treatment with OCA and might lead to treatment discontinuation. However, given the limitations of existing treatments for NAFLD, OCA might represent a useful therapeutic option in selected patients with NAFLD.


Dyslipidemia; Farnesoid X receptors; Fibrosis; Hepatocellular cancer; Insulin resistance; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Obeticholic acid; Steatosis

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