Hepatic steatosis, a hallmark of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD), is an early marker as well as a
cause of the cardiometabolic syndrome, prediabetes and NIDDM. Its high prevalence in the general population and its
many causes and complex mechanisms make it a pathology which must be treated and requires careful diagnosis also in
terms of underlying causes, which may strongly vary among subjects. The recent awareness of the commonness of
NAFLD has prompted intensive research which unraveled many different mechanisms causing hepatic steatosis, from diet
to intestinal diseases and liver receptors. Epigenetic factors must be added to this list.
A variety of causes and mechanisms open many different potential therapeutic approaches. This review aims at summarizing
the effects of a selected series of old and new treatments for which there exist at least a reasonable amount of data.
Many show efficacy in animals but human data are less convincing largely because of poor amount of data and generally
they lack histological confirmation. Many drugs either induce undesirable side-effects or have tight therapeutic dose windows. The recent recognition of a key role of intestinal microbiota in NAFLD and metabolic syndrome may represent a
major therapeutic breakthrough by the modulation of bacteria in the gut.
Performing randomized long-term clinical studies including liver biopsies appears as prerequisite to determine which
treatment is the most valuable, however not ignoring that the therapeutic choice may require individualization among subjects
as a function of the origins of NAFLD.