Obesity as the common soil of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes: Role of adipokines

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) describes a spectrum of liver conditions from simple steatosis, steatohepatitis to end-stage liver disease. The prevalence of NAFLD has been on the rise in many parts of the world, including Asia, and NAFLD is now the liver disease associated with the highest mortality, consequent to the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and hepatocellular carcinoma. Whereas NAFLD is an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes, increased hepatic and peripheral insulin resistance contribute to the pathogenesis of both NAFLD and diabetes, which are associated with enhanced cardiovascular risk. Studies in humans and animal models have suggested obesity as the common link of these two diseases, likely mediated by adipose tissue inflammation and dysregulated adipokine production in obesity. In the present review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the role of several novel adipokines (adiponectin, adipocyte fatty acid binding protein and fibroblast growth factor-21) in the pathophysiology of NAFLD and diabetes, as well as their use as potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets for dysglycemia in NAFLD patients.

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