Fatty Liver and Steatohepatitis

This study evaluates possible genetic reasons for the development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) and the progression of fatty liver.


Fatty liver describes the build up of fat in and around the outside of the liver; - 30% of the UK population are thought to have fatty liver

Steatohepatitis is a liver disease where there is inflammation of the liver as well as fat build up.

There are two types of steatohepatitis:

alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) - the features are similar for both types.

NASH is common in patients with diabetes or who are overweight and consume no/low levels of alcohol but also occurs in people who are not diabetic/overweight.

A small number of patients with NASH or ASH go on to develop serious liver diseases such as scarring, leading to cirrhosis and liver failure.

  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the general term for liver disease in non/low drinkers ranging from fatty liver and NASH to scarring/cirrhosis.
  • Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) describes the general disease caused by hazardous levels of alcohol consumption from fatty liver and ASH to scarring/cirrhosis.

Study Aims

To understand the steps that lead to liver damage and disease progression in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic liver disease (ALD)

To compare the features of people with fatty liver to those with NASH/ASH and to people with no disease.

  • We aim to determine whether genetic differences in components of pathways involved in processing fat or developing inflammation and scarring in the liver are associated with an increased risk of developing NASH. Genetic differences of patients with steatohepatitis (NASH or ASH) will be compared with those who have ‘simple fatty liver’ and with healthy volunteers. This comparison would identify the genetic differences between different groups of participants and would us to identify factors which might be involved in the progression of liver disease.
  • Possible new chemical indicators of disease processes have been suggested based on other research studies. Some indicators have been proposed to show liver cell damage in a non-invasive way, such as blood or urine samples. This study aims to find out whether these biomarkers are valuable in diagnosing fatty liver, scarring, NASH and ASH.

Our goal

To develop new non-invasive tests to specifically diagnose fatty liver disease, NASH and ASH and predict disease progression, as an alternative to liver biopsy.

Who can participate?

  • Men and women aged over 18 and able to give informed consent
  • Patients diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (usually by liver biopsy)
  • Patients diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease (usually by liver biopsy)
  • ‘Healthy volunteers’ – people with no known/diagnosed liver disease

Participation involves:

  • One visit to the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre (‘BRC’) in QMC with a research nurse (a nurse from the research team will arrange an appointment for you at our research centre - where possible at the same time as your medical appointment)
  • Discussions with the nurse about your medical history
  • Blood sample
  • Urine sample (optional)
  • Stool sample (optional)
  • Completion of food and activity questionnaires

Any samples or data used will be anonymised and you will not be identifiable.

Study Contacts

Jane Grove, Assistant Professer, jane.grove@nottingham.ac.uk

Jan Hallas, Senior Research Nurse, jan.hallas@nuh.nhs.uk

Bethany Robinson, Personal Assistant & Research Administrator to Professor Guru Aithal, bethany.robinson@nottingham.ac.uk

Tel: 0115 9709966

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