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Advances in non-invasive biomarkers for the diagnosis and monitoring of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now the most common chronic liver disease in the United States, affecting approximately 1 out of every 4 Americans. NAFLD is a spectrum of disorders including simple steatosis, characterized by the presence of hepatic steatosis with minimal inflammation, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), characterized by the presence of hepatic steatosis with lobular inflammation, ballooning with or without peri-sinusoidal fibrosis. NASH may lead to progressive fibrosis, and therefore, Individuals with NASH and, in particular, hepatic fibrosis are at increased risk for both liver- and cardiovascular-related outcomes compared to those with steatosis alone. New treatments for NASH and hepatic fibrosis are emerging, so now, more than ever, it is important to identify individuals with more advanced disease who may be candidates for therapy. Noninvasive methods to accurately diagnosis, risk stratify, and monitor both NASH and fibrosis are critically needed. Moreover, since clinically relevant outcomes, such as developing end stage liver disease or liver cancer, take many years to develop, reliable surrogate markers of outcome measures are needed to identify and evaluate potential therapies. In this review, we discuss methods to noninvasively diagnosis and monitor both NASH and fibrosis.

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