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Portal hypertension in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Current knowledge and challenges

Madir, Anita; Grgurevic, Ivica; Tsochatzis, Emmanuel A; Pinzani, Massimo; (2024) Portal hypertension in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Current knowledge and challenges. World Journal of Gastroenterology , 30 (4) pp. 290-307. 10.3748/wjg.v30.i4.290. Green open access

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Abstract

Portal hypertension (PH) has traditionally been observed as a consequence of significant fibrosis and cirrhosis in advanced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, recent studies have provided evidence that PH may develop in earlier stages of NAFLD, suggesting that there are additional pathogenetic mechanisms at work in addition to liver fibrosis. The early development of PH in NAFLD is associated with hepatocellular lipid accumulation and ballooning, leading to the compression of liver sinusoids. External compression and intra-luminal obstacles cause mechanical forces such as strain, shear stress and elevated hydrostatic pressure that in turn activate mechanotransduction pathways, resulting in endothelial dysfunction and the development of fibrosis. The spatial distribution of histological and functional changes in the periportal and perisinusoidal areas of the liver lobule are considered responsible for the pre-sinusoidal component of PH in patients with NAFLD. Thus, current diagnostic methods such as hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) measurement tend to underestimate portal pressure (PP) in NAFLD patients, who might decompensate below the HVPG threshold of 10 mmHg, which is traditionally considered the most relevant indicator of clinically significant portal hypertension (CSPH). This creates further challenges in finding a reliable diagnostic method to stratify the prognostic risk in this population of patients. In theory, the measurement of the portal pressure gradient guided by endoscopic ultrasound might overcome the limitations of HVPG measurement by avoiding the influence of the pre-sinusoidal component, but more investigations are needed to test its clinical utility for this indication. Liver and spleen stiffness measurement in combination with platelet count is currently the best-validated non-invasive approach for diagnosing CSPH and varices needing treatment. Lifestyle change remains the cornerstone of the treatment of PH in NAFLD, together with correcting the components of metabolic syndrome, using nonselective beta blockers, whereas emerging candidate drugs require more robust confirmation from clinical trials.

Type: Article
Title: Portal hypertension in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Current knowledge and challenges
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3748/wjg.v30.i4.290
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v30.i4.290
Language: English
Additional information: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: https://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Keywords: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Portal hypertension; Mechanotransduction; Endothelial dysfunction; Hepatic venous pressure gradient
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Inst for Liver and Digestive Hlth
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10187047
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