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Table of Contents
Vol. 29, No. 2, 2011
Issue release date: July 2011
Dig Dis 2011;29:202–210


Scaglioni F. · Ciccia S. · Marino M. · Bedogni G. · Bellentani S.
aLiver Center, Gastroenterologia, Distretto di Carpi, Azienda USL di Modena, Carpi, and bLiver Research Center, Trieste, Italy

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Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) have a similar pathogenesis and histopathology but a different etiology and epidemiology. NASH and ASH are advanced stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). NAFLD is characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver (steatosis), without any other evident causes of chronic liver diseases (viral, autoimmune, genetic, etc.), and with an alcohol consumption ≤20–30 g/day. On the contrary, AFLD is defined as the presence of steatosis and alcohol consumption >20–30 g/day. The most common phenotypic manifestations of primary NAFLD/NASH are overweight/obesity, visceral adiposity, type 2 diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia and hypertension. The prevalence of NAFLD in the general population in Western countries is estimated to be 25–30%. The prevalence and incidence of NASH and ASH are not known because of the impossibility of performing liver biopsy in the general population. Up to 90% of alcoholics have fatty liver, and 5–15% of these subjects will develop cirrhosis over 20 years. The risk of cirrhosis increases to 30–40% in those who continue to drink alcohol. About 10–35% of alcoholics exhibit changes on liver biopsy consistent with alcoholic hepatitis. Natural histories of NASH and ASH are not completely defined, even if patients with NASH have a reduced life expectancy due to liver-related death and cardiovascular diseases. The best treatment of AFLD/ASH is to stop drinking, and the most effective first-line therapeutic option for NAFLD/NASH is non-pharmacologic lifestyle interventions through a multidisciplinary approach including weight loss, dietary changes, physical exercise, and cognitive-behavior therapy.

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