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J Hepatol. 2018 Feb;68(2):362-375. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2017.10.015. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Pharmacotherapy for NASH: Current and emerging.

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University of Michigan, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA.
University of Oxford, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become one of the most prominent forms of chronic liver disease worldwide, reflecting the epidemic of global obesity. Those with the progressive variant of NAFLD, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), are at significantly increased risk of multisystem morbidity and mortality. However, there are currently no approved pharmacologic therapies for NASH. Given the disease burden, there is an important unmet need for pharmacologic treatment options for this patient population. The underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms that contribute to the development and progression of NAFLD and NASH are complex and reflected by the myriad of therapies, with different targets, currently under investigation. In broad strokes, drug development has focused on modulation of metabolic pathways, inflammatory cascades, and/or mechanisms impacting fibrosis. Although much progress has been made in enhancing our understanding of NAFLD pathogenesis, development of pharmacologic treatments has been hindered by challenges in clinical trial enrollment and complexities in clinical trial design. The compounds in phase IIa have provided promising results in terms of potential benefits on various aspects of histopathology. Agents in later stages of development have shown fairly modest results in terms of reduction of hepatic steatosis, necroinflammation and fibrosis. If longer term safety and efficacy are established among heterogeneous cohorts, these medications may help mitigate potential morbidity and mortality for this burgeoning patient population.


Clinical trials; Fibrosis; Hepatitis; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Steatosis


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