The role of insulin-sensitizing agents in the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

Lisa B. Van Wagner, Mary E. Rinella*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome, which includes dyslipidemia, central obesity, hypertension, and insulin resistance. These diseases collectively and individually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a subset of NAFLD that can progress to cirrhosis in up to 30% of patients and lead to decompensated liver disease requiring liver transplantation in many patients. Insulin resistance is the pathophysiological hallmark of NASH and addressing insulin resistance is an important aspect of NASH management. Lifestyle modifications with diet and exercise improve insulin sensitivity and are the cornerstone of therapy, but are often difficult to maintain long term. Not surprisingly, insulin-sensitizing agents have been a focus of pharmacologic investigation in NASH. Insulin sensitizers such as the thiazolidinediones, biguanides, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, and the dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitors, also known as incretins, will be discussed with respect to their mechanism of action and how these drugs might target aspects of NASH pathophysiology. Finally, we will summarize the available clinical data and review both the risks and benefits of insulin sensitizers in the treatment of NASH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-263
Number of pages15
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Exenatide
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metformin
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Pioglitazone
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Sitagliptin
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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