Weight loss with lifestyle modification and bariatric surgery can significantly reduce issues related to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a disease characterized by fat in the liver.
"While the underlying cause of NASH is unclear, we most commonly see this condition in patients who are middle-aged and obese," said lead author Giulio Marchesini from the University of Bologna, Italy.
A weight loss of 10 percent or more is necessary to bring about NASH resolution and reverse scarring of the liver in overweight and obese patients.
To a lesser degree, modest weight loss (seven to 10 percent) reduced disease severity in certain subsets of patients, including male patients and those without diabetes.
Conversely, 93 percent of the patients with little or no weight reduction (less than five percent) experienced worsening of liver scarring, outlined the study that appeared in Gastroenterology.
In the second Gastroenterology study, Guillaume Lassailly and colleagues from France report that one year after bariatric surgery NASH had disappeared from 85 percent of patients and reduced the pathologic features of the disease after one year of follow-up.
NASH disappeared from a higher proportion of patients with mild NASH before surgery (94 percent) than severe NASH (70 percent).
"These two studies provide a benchmark for any future pharmacologic intervention in NASH, across the entire spectrum of obesity," Marchesini said.
NASH can over time lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly.
With no approved therapies available for NASH currently, physicians recommend that patients with NASH reduce their weight, eat a balanced diet, engage in physical activity, and avoid alcohol and unnecessary medications.