Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cholesterol gallstones, and cholecystectomy: new insights on a complex relationship

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Gallstone disease (GSD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD often coexist in a given patient and both conditions are associated to obesity and insulin resistance. The relationship between GSD and NAFLD is complex and bidirectional. In the present review, we summarize the existing information on the complex link between GSD and NAFLD and the potential implications for patient care.

Recent findings

Several clinical studies and systematic reviews have addressed the association between NAFLD and GSD underscoring that NAFLD is an independent risk factor for GSD. Conversely, GSD has been found also to be an independent risk factor for NAFLD with GSD potentially being linked to greater disease severity. In addition to the data showing association of NAFLD and GSD, recent evidence has also showed that cholecystectomy may itself be a risk factor for NAFLD development. The complex and bidirectional relationship between these diseases is partially explained by a number of common pathogenic links but the precise underlying mechanisms of the association of GSD and NAFLD need to be better delineated. Also, although the mechanisms of the promotional effect of cholecystectomy on NAFLD development are unknown, recent findings unveiling new aspects of gallbladder physiology and endocrine actions of bile acids provide a framework to advance research in this field.

Summary

In this review, we address the different aspects of the complex association between NAFLD and GSD. The potential underlying mechanisms and recent information on endocrine actions of bile acids and the gallbladder are reviewed.

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