1 NAFLD, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; NAS, nonalcoholic fatty liver
disease activity score; NASH, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis In 1999, two important studies were published: Brunt et al.2 proposed a scoring system for grading the severity of NASH (mild, moderate, or severe), and Matteoni et al.3 proposed the classification of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) into four subtypes based on combinations of liver lesions. Subsequently, data from several publications around the world have convincingly demonstrated that patients with confirmed NAFLD have a worse prognosis in comparison with the general population (matched by age and sex),4-7 and the prognosis
of patients with NAFLD varies with the severity of the liver injury.8 In this issue GSK-3 inhibitor of HEPATOLOGY, Younossi et al.9 www.selleckchem.com/products/Methazolastone.html report their data on the agreement between four definitions of NASH and the ability of these definitions to predict liver-related mortality. The first part of their study included 257 patients with liver biopsy–confirmed NAFLD who were divided according to the presence or absence of NASH. The four definitions of NASH are as follows: 1 The original definition proposed by the same investigators in 1999,3 which is based on steatosis plus hepatocyte ballooning, Mallory-Denk bodies, or fibrosis. The reported κ statistic (κ = 0.896) indicates almost perfect agreement between Younossi et al.’s current definition of NASH and the original definition; this is not surprising because the two definitions are essentially identical. The agreement between the current definition and an NAS ≥ 5 is moderate (κ = 0.511), and it
remains in the moderate range even if the NAS threshold is reduced to 3. The agreement between the current definition and Brunt’s definition is only fair (κ = 0.365). click here The agreement between an NAS ≥ 5 and Brunt’s definition is less than fair with a κ value of only 0.178. Although these data are interesting, several issues that may affect their clinical relevance need to be discussed. First, the NAS system is not intended to categorize patients according to their NASH status; instead, it is meant to be used to evaluate the changes in individual histological features, as mentioned previously.1 Second, most experts in the field would agree that the presence of only steatosis and lobular inflammation in a liver biopsy sample (i.e., one of the NASH definitions used in this study) should not be called NASH, at least according to our understanding of the condition.