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Circadian rhythms: a possible new player in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease pathophysiology

  • Davide Gnocchi
  • Carlo Custodero
  • Carlo Sabbà
  • Antonio MazzoccaEmail author
Review

Abstract

Over the last decades, a better knowledge of the molecular machinery supervising the regulation of circadian clocks has been achieved, and numerous findings have helped in unravelling the outstanding significance of the molecular clock for the proper regulation of our physiologic and metabolic homeostasis. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is currently considered as one of the emerging liver pathologies in the Western countries due to the modification of eating habits and lifestyle. Although NAFLD is considered a pretty benign condition, it can progress towards non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and eventually hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The pathogenic mechanisms involved in NAFLD development are complex, since this disease is a multifactorial condition. Major metabolic deregulations along with a genetic background are believed to take part in this process. In this light, the aim of this review is to give a comprehensive description of how our circadian machinery is regulated and to describe to what extent our internal clock is involved in the regulation of hormonal and metabolic homeostasis, and by extension in the development and progression of NAFLD/NASH and eventually in the onset of HCC.

Keywords

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Circadian rhythms Metabolism Metabolic syndrome Insulin resistance 

Abbreviations

NAFLD

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

NASH

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

ALFD

Alcoholic fatty liver disease

HCC

Hepatocellular carcinoma

MetS

Metabolic syndrome

BMI

Body mass index

PUFA

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

PNPLA3

Patatin-like phospholipase domain-coding protein

IR

Insulin resistance

FFA

Free fatty acid

SNPs

Single nucleotide polymorphisms

GWAS

Genome-wide association studies

Notes

Author contributions

Conceptualisation and writing—original draft preparation, D.G.; conceptualisation and writing—review and editing, A.M.; writing—review and editing, C.C., C.S.

Funding information

The work was supported by the AIRC (Italian Association for Cancer Research) Investigator Grant (IG) 2015 Id.17758 (to A. Mazzocca).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Davide Gnocchi
    • 1
  • Carlo Custodero
    • 1
  • Carlo Sabbà
    • 1
  • Antonio Mazzocca
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Department of MedicineUniversity of Bari School of MedicineBariItaly

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