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SGLT2 Inhibitors as the Most Promising Influencers on the Outcome of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

  • Autori: Mirarchi L.; Amodeo S.; Citarrella R.; Licata A.; Soresi M.; Giannitrapani L.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2022
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most frequent liver disease in the Western world, is a common hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome (MetS). A specific cure has not yet been identified, and its treatment is currently based on risk factor therapy. Given that the initial accumulation of triglycerides in the liver parenchyma, in the presence of inflammatory processes, mitochondrial dysfunction, lipotoxicity, glucotoxicity, and oxidative stress, can evolve into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The main goal is to identify the factors contributing to this evolution because, once established, untreated NASH can progress through fibrosis to cirrhosis and, ultimately, be complicated by hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Several drugs have been tested in clinical trials for use as specific therapy for NAFLD; most of them are molecules used to cure type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), which is one of the main risk factors for NAFLD. Among the most studied is pioglitazone, either alone or in combination with vitamin E, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. Actually, the most promising category seems to be sodium-glucose cotransporter (SGLT2) inhibitors. Their action is carried out by inhibiting glucose reabsorption in the proximal renal tubule, leading to its increased excretion in urine and decreased levels in plasma. Experimental studies in animal models have suggested that SGLT2 inhibitors may have beneficial modulatory effects on NAFLD/NASH, and several trials in patients have proven their beneficial effects on liver enzymes, BMI, blood lipids, blood glucose, and insulin resistance in NAFLD patients, thus creating strong expectations for their possible use in preventing the evolution of liver damage in these patients. We will review the main pathogenetic mechanisms, diagnostic modalities, and recent therapies of NAFLD, with particular attention to the use of SGLT2 inhibitors.