Antiretroviral medications have significantly improved the prognosis of subjects infected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, long-term complications of these drugs are increasingly recognized as significant causes of morbidity and mortality. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can evolve into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and ultimately hepatic failure is one of the more often observed complications in the current clinical practice and the correlation with liver enzyme elevations is controversial. Multiple factors have been considered as possibly correlated to this event in the HIV-infected population, including metabolic abnormalities (such as hyperlipidaemia, hyperglycaemia and being overweight), chronic inflammation, concurrent infection with hepatitis C and B viruses, and treatment with certain nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI). HIV-associated syndromes such as lactic acidosis and lypodystrophy are frequently associated with fatty liver disease and a mitochondrial injury has been considered as its possible pathogenetic factor. In particular, treatment containing stavudine and didanosine have proven to be the most commonly implicated in the occurrence of mitochondrial abnormalities. Epidemiologic data to better define the role of predictive factors and drugs associated with the development of NAFLD are still lacking. Furthermore, it remains unclear the better therapeutic management for this condition, even if the current best therapeutic option for NAFLD is the treatment of the underlying disease. Other studies are mandatory to better elucidate the pathogenesis of NAFLD and the optimal therapeutic strategy for the underlying conditions.
Keywords: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Obesity, Genetic polymorphism, AZT, metabolic syndrome, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
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