Home » AGEB Journal » Issues » Volume 85 » Fasc.2 - Reviews

Volume 85 - 2022 - Fasc.2 - Reviews

Non-invasive screening, staging and management of metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients : what do we know so far ?

Metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is the evidence of steatosis in the setting of a metabolic risk condition such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Indeed, T2DM and liver steatosis share common pathophysiological mechanisms, and one can lead to the other. MAFLD can progress from simple steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and cirrhosis as well as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Because of the lack / disparity of guidelines for MAFLD screening, which is asymptomatic in its early stages, it is not rare that diabetic patients are belatedly diagnosed with NASH cirrhosis or HCC. We therefore recommend systematic non-invasive tests (NITs) that calculate an estimate of the risk based on readily available anthropometric and biological parameters. These include the fatty liver index (FLI) for steatosis detection and at least one of the following for fibrosis: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease fibrosis score (NFS), fibrosis-4 index (FIB-4) or Hepamet fibrosis score (HFS). Indeed, NFS and FIB-4 are the best predictors of liver-related events, while FIB-4 and HFS correlate with overall mortality. Systematic literature review found only few retrospective or cross-sectional studies using NITs for systematic steatosis and fibrosis screening in T2DM patients, with a crucial need for prospective studies. This screening strategy will allow targeted patients to be referred for further liver investigation (e.g. ultrasound, elastometry) and care. Current treatment modalities of MAFLD in T2DM patients range from lifestyle and dietary interventions to specific glucose-lowering drugs that recently showed some benefits regarding MAFLD, such as pioglitazone, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors. Other treatments are currently under investigation.