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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 831536, 12 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms and Implications of Age-Related Changes in the Liver: Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the Elderly

Liver Research Group, Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit, The Canberra Hospital, Australian National University Medical School, Yamba Drive, Garran, ACT 2605, Australia

Received 30 May 2011; Accepted 9 July 2011

Academic Editor: Victoria Cogger

Copyright © 2011 Lay Gan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is hepatic steatosis associated with metabolic abnormalities such as overweight/central obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and dyslipidemia. NAFLD is becoming the most common liver disease in contemporary society, with the highest prevalence in those over 60 years. NAFLD pathology ranges from simple steatosis to a necroinflammatory fibrosing disorder called steatohepatitis (SH), the latter associated with high risk of developing cirrhosis, often occuring in the seventh to ninth decades of life. While the main health implications of NAFLD are increased risk of developing T2D, cardiovascular diseases, and common cancers, there is substantantially increased standardized mortality, and deaths from decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Little is known about the interactive effects of ageing and NAFLD, with most studies focusing on the younger population. This paper summarises the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical course of NAFLD, with particular attention to persons over age 60 years. An approach to the management of NASH and its complications in the elderly, will also be presented here.