- 1Research Unit of Molecular Genetics of Complex Phenotypes, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital , IRCCS, Rome, Italy.
- 2Department of Clinical Medicine, Life, Health & Environmental Sciences-MESVA, University of L'Aquila , L'Aquila, Italy.
Introduction: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in childhood/adolescence. It comprises a broad spectrum of liver disease severity ranging from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis and fibrosis. To date lifestyle modifications, diet and physical activity represent the main option for the management of pediatric NAFLD, but numerous treatments classified depending on the mechanism of action, have been introduced. In keeping with, bariatric surgery, insulin sensitizers, antioxidants, probiotic and dietary supplementations have been evaluated in pediatric clinical trials.
Areas covered: This review describes, after a search in PubMed/MEDLINE database, the current pediatric NAFLD non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments and their effects on biochemical and histological features. We report not only the efficacy of the diet coupled with regular exercise, but also advantages of the pharmacological treatments used in combination with lifestyle interventions in pediatric NAFLD.
Expert opinion: Since pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions have demonstrated variable effects in pediatric NAFLD, it is clear that safe and specific and efficient therapeutic strategies have not yet been identified. Therefore, large and long-term clinical trials in children are needed to find a way to reverse the liver tissue damage and the NAFLD-related long-term morbidity and mortality.