Research Priorities in NAFLD: Ensuring Personalised and Multidisciplinary Patient Care

Both non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), NAFLD’s inflammatory and progressive subtype, are the histologic manifestations of a heterogeneous disease intricately linked with metabolic disorders.
PUBLISHED IN: Clinics in Liver Disease (May 2023)


Importantly, NAFLD has recently emerged as the most prevalent chronic liver disease globally, affecting approximately one in three adults and 10% of children and adolescents worldwide. Despite the significant burden it embodies, NAFLD has remained relatively underemphasised in the global public health arena, resulting in weak and disjointed responses to its emergence. 

This review aims to summarise the NAFLD-centred discussions and research priorities highlighted by a panel of experts during the International Precision Medicine Forum: NAFLD Updated, held in May 2022.

Key learnings:

Research priorities in NAFLD care encompass the condition’s social and economic implications, its heterogeneity, the design of its clinical trials, and its management via multidisciplinary approaches. To cultivate a greater understanding of NAFLD socioeconomic ramifications, robust national prevalence studies, including in paediatric populations, must be conducted to ensure the identification of health inequities in NAFLD. Moreover, although no data currently exists to support liver fibrosis screening in the general population, several expert guidelines highlight the importance of case-finding strategies for patients with metabolic risk factors. As such, future research should assess the cost-effectiveness of universal and two-tiered screening with non-invasive tools (NITs). Challenges in NAFLD clinical trials include the paucity of regulator-defined conditional approval pathways built on NITs. Ultimately, NAFLD care models must be multidisciplinary and patient-centred, with an emphasis on combination therapies and personalised care via telemedicine.

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S Duarte, BSc

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