Management of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Call to Action
Traditionally a disease of hepatologists, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has recently become a major concern for a broad spectrum of health care providers. Endocrinologists and those caring for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are at center stage, as T2DM appears to worsen the course of NAFLD and the liver disease makes diabetes management more challenging. However, the nature of this relationship remains incompletely understood. Although the increasing prevalence of NAFLD is frequently attributed to the epidemic of obesity and is often oversimplified as the “hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome,” it is a much more complex disease process that may also be observed in nonobese individuals and in patients without clinical manifestations of the metabolic syndrome. It carries both metabolic and liver-specific complications that make its approach unique among medical conditions. Diabetes appears to promote the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the more severe form of the disease, and increases the risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Patients and physicians face many uncertainties, including fragmented information on the natural history of the disease, challenges in the diagnosis of NASH, and few pharmacological agents with proven efficacy. However, recent advances in diagnosis and treatment, combined with the risk of serious consequences from inaction, call for health care providers to be more proactive in the management of patients with T2DM and NASH.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://care.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/dc16-1787/-/DC1.
- Received August 18, 2016.
- Accepted December 8, 2016.
- © 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.