Hope through Research
What is most needed in the management of NASH is more research to better understand the liver injury found in this disease. When the pathways that lead to the injury are fully known, safe and effective means can be developed to reverse these pathways and help patients with NASH. Recent breakthroughs in mapping the human genome and uncovering the individual steps by which insulin and other hormones regulate blood glucose and fat could provide the necessary clues.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funds the NASH Clinical Research Network, which comprises eight clinical centers located throughout the United States and a coordinating center at Johns Hopkins University. The NASH network researches the nature and underlying cause of NASH and conducts clinical studies on prevention and treatment. More information on the NASH Clinical Research Network and the locations of the clinical centers are available at www.jhucct.com/nash/.
Points to Remember
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is fat in the liver, with inflammation and damage.
- NASH occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol and affects 2 to 5 percent of Americans, especially people who are middle-aged and overweight or obese.
- NASH can occur in children.
- People who have NASH may feel well and may not know that they have a liver disease.
- NASH can lead to cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver is permanently damaged and cannot work properly.
- Fatigue can occur at any stage of NASH.
- Weight loss and weakness may begin once the disease is advanced or cirrhosis is present.
- NASH may be suspected if blood tests show high levels of liver enzymes or if scans show fatty liver.
- NASH is diagnosed by examining a small piece of the liver taken through a needle, a procedure called biopsy.
- People who have NASH should reduce their weight, eat a balanced diet, engage in physical activity, and avoid alcohol and unnecessary medications.
- No specific therapies for NASH exist. Experimental therapies being studied include antioxidants and antidiabetes medications.
Wolosin, James D, MD, FACP, and Steven V. Edelman, MD. Diabetes and the Gastrointestinal Tract. 2008: Clinical Diabetes 18:4. Fall 2000.
For More Information
American Liver Foundation (ALF)
75 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038
Phone: 1–800–GO–LIVER (465–4837), 1–888–4HEP–USA (443–7872), or 212–668–1000
Excerpted from NIH Pub. No. 07–4921.
Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, M.D. 06/11
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