Metabolites (Oct 2021)

Contribution of Metabolomics to the Understanding of NAFLD and NASH Syndromes: A Systematic Review

  • Cristina Piras,
  • Antonio Noto,
  • Luciano Ibba,
  • Martino Deidda,
  • Vassilios Fanos,
  • Sandro Muntoni,
  • Vera Piera Leoni,
  • Luigi Atzori

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 10
p. 694


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Several differential panels of metabolites have been associated with the presence of metabolic syndrome and its related conditions, namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This study aimed to perform a systematic review to summarize the most recent finding in terms of circulating biomarkers following NAFLD/NASH syndromes. Hence, the research was focused on NAFLD/NASH studies analysed by metabolomics approaches. Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, a systematic search was conducted on the PubMed database. The inclusion criteria were (i) publication date between 2010 and 2021, (ii) presence of the combination of terms: metabolomics and NAFLD/NASH, and (iii) published in a scholarly peer-reviewed journal. Studies were excluded from the review if they were (i) single-case studies, (ii) unpublished thesis and dissertation studies, and (iii) not published in a peer-reviewed journal. Following these procedures, 10 eligible studies among 93 were taken into consideration. The metabolisms of amino acids, fatty acid, and vitamins were significantly different in patients affected by NAFLD and NASH compared to healthy controls. These findings suggest that low weight metabolites are an important indicator for NAFLD/NASH syndrome and there is a strong overlap between NAFLD/NASH and the metabolic syndrome. These findings may lead to new perspectives in early diagnosis, identification of novel biomarkers, and providing novel targets for pharmacological interventions.