A Fatty World: Exploring Racial Disparity in NAFLD/NASH

Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are metabolic disorders that affect the liver. A world crisis is unfolding as the number of people with NAFLD/NASH is substantially increasing. Chronic liver disease is now estimated to be the leading cause for liver transplant. Studies have shown that NAFLD/NASH is often more pronounced in certain ethnic populations, particularly Asian and Hispanic communities. An explanation for this increased incidence may be associated with intrinsic ethnic factors and/or genetic polymorphism (variants in a particular DNA sequence). Further, the etiology of NAFLD/NASH is also linked to obesity, diabetes, and other risk factors which are highly pronounced in racial communities. Unfortunately, there currently is no NAFLD/NASH-specific medication on the market to treat these diseases. New drug development and ongoing research is necessary to treat and cure NAFLD/NASH, with particular attention given to engage high risk populations. Importantly, the discovery of new treatments may be beneficial with ongoing support and collaboration between the research community and ethnic groups.
Conclusion: For NAFLD/NASH clinical studies, participation of Asians and Hispanics is vital and may be important in drug development programs for successful and targeted treatment.


Sharon H Jaycox

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