A new report by scientists at the University of Washington has revealed that the large increase in NAFLD liver transplants due to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in the United States can be partly explained by the dramatic rise in the number of diabetes patients as well as rising obesity levels.
The research, published in Liver Transplantatio, explored the proportion of liver transplantations of NASH-related cirrhosis in the US and the survival rates of patients following transplantation. It found that post-transplantation survival one-year rates for NASH patients were at close to near 88 per cent.
Such transplants saw a more than 600 per cent rise in the last 10 years, and are performed when too much fat builds up in the livers, causing cirrhosis. In the United States, the amount of liver transplants for NASH cirrhosis went up from about 1 per cent between 1997 and 2003 to over 7 per cent last year.
It is known many people who have the common liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is due to excess levels of fat in liver cells unrelated to alchohol consumptio, also develop NASH, with the main risk factors for both being diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. The increase in prevalence of these conditions is causing concern about the amount of liver transplants needed in the future.
Researcher Anita Afzali commented “With the epidemics of obesity and diabetes giving rise to cases of NAFLD and NASH, it is important to understand the impact of these metabolic conditions on the outcomes after liver transplantation.”

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