Study Says Asian Patients With NAFLD Have Lower Risk of Cirrhosis

This past week, Target RWE announced data from its TARGET-NASH study, designed to better understand differences in health outcomes for patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). According to their findings, Asian patients with a lean BMI who also have NAFLD are 53% less likely to have a severe form of the disease, or to have cirrhosis (liver scarring), in comparison to lean patients from other backgrounds. Check out the full study results in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.


The TARGET-NASH study, which took place over a 3 year period, examined 3,386 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Researchers wanted to understand how often patients with a normal BMI developed cirrhosis. As expected, they found that overweight or obese patients were most likely to develop liver cirrhosis resulting from NAFLD. However, they also discovered that Asian patients with a lower body mass index are less likely to develop cirrhosis than patients of other ethnicities with the same BMI. According to researchers, this provides a jumping off point to another topic: how and why patients of different ethnicities respond to this condition in different ways, and how treatments might be personalized to fit these needs.


According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when excess fat accumulates in the liver in non-drinkers or those who drink very little. NAFLD is one of the leading causes of liver disease in America. About 20% of people with NAFLD have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, type 2 diabetes, and a Hispanic background. In many cases, patients do not show symptoms, or only show symptoms once cirrhosis occurs. However, if symptoms do appear, they include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Enlarged blood vessels beneath the skin
  • Jaundice
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Red palms
  • An enlarged spleen

Learn more about NAFLD.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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