Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a progressive liver disease characterized by a build-up of fat in the liver (steatosis), associated with inflammation and liver cell injury visible under a microscope with a liver biopsy. This condition may lead to advanced fibrosis, which is the scarring of the liver when damaged tissue replaces healthy liver tissue.
Patients with NASH have a high risk of cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue has accumulated in the liver, changing liver functions and leading to serious liver damage. Once cirrhosis has developed, the serious complications of liver disease may occur, including liver failure, liver cancer, or even the need for a liver transplant.
There are several risk factors and predictors of NASH, including age, obesity or being overweight, type 2 diabetes, altered blood lipids, and increased liver enzymes. Patients with NASH have increased risks for cardiovascular complications, potentially leading to heart attack or severe heart disease. Therefore, an ideal treatment for this disease should resolve NASH and also have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular risk.
NASH occurs worldwide and is the most common liver disorder in Western industrialized countries, affecting 12% of American adults.1 Although NASH affects a growing number of people, there is still no approved treatment for the condition. Clinical research is essential to finding a potential treatment option for people with NASH.