Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-related hepatocellular carcinoma: pathogenesis and treatment

Josep M. Llovet, Catherine E. Willoughby, Amit G. Singal, Tim F. Greten, Mathias Heikenwälder, Hashem B. El-Serag, Richard S. Finn, Scott L. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), including its more severe manifestation, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), has a global prevalence of 20–25% and is a major public health problem. Its incidence is increasing in parallel to the rise in obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Progression from NASH to NASH-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (~2% of cases per year) is influenced by many factors, including the tissue and immune microenvironment, germline mutations in PNPLA3, and the microbiome. NASH-HCC has unique molecular and immune traits compared with other aetiologies of HCC and is equally prevalent in men and women. Comorbidities associated with NASH, such as obesity and diabetes mellitus, can prevent the implementation of potentially curative therapies in certain patients; nonetheless, outcomes are similar in patients who receive treatment. NASH-HCC at the early to intermediate stages is managed with surgery and locoregional therapies, whereas advanced HCC is treated with systemic therapies, including anti-angiogenic therapies and immune-checkpoint inhibitors. In this Review, we present the latest knowledge of the pathogenic mechanisms and clinical management of NASH-HCC. We discuss data highlighting the controversy over varying responses to immune-checkpoint inhibitors according to underlying aetiology and suggest that the future of NASH-HCC management lies in improved surveillance, targeted combination therapies to overcome immune evasion, and identifying biomarkers to recognize treatment responders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-503
Number of pages17
JournalNature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


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