Histological assessment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an important complication of the metabolic syndrome, which is becoming an increasingly common cause of chronic liver disease. Histological changes typically mainly affect perivenular regions of the liver parenchyma and include an overlapping spectrum of steatosis, steatohepatitis and persinusoidal or pericellular fibrosis, in some cases leading to cirrhosis. Once cirrhosis has developed, typical hepatocellular changes are often no longer conspicuous, leading to such cases being mistakenly diagnosed as 'cryptogenic'. Portal inflammation, ductular reaction and periportal fibrosis can also be seen as part of the morphological spectrum of NAFLD, particularly in the paediatric population. Hepatocellular carcinoma has also been described as a complication of NAFLD-associated cirrhosis. NAFLD is also an important cofactor in other chronic liver diseases, especially hepatitis C. Histological assessments have an important role to play in the diagnosis and management of NAFLD. These include making the potentially important distinction between simple steatosis and steatohepatitis and providing pointers to the aetiology, including cases where a dual pathology exists. A number of systems have been devised for grading and staging the severity of fatty liver disease. These require further evaluation, but have a potentially important role to play in determining prognosis and monitoring therapeutic responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-65
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006


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