Hepatokines and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Dariusz M. Lebensztejn
  • Marta Flisiak-Jackiewicz
  • Irena Białokoz-Kalinowska
  • Anna Bobrus-Chociej
  • Irina Kowalska


Nowadays non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming the most common chronic liver pathology both in adults and children. NAFLD manifestation ranges from a simple liver steatosis to steatohepatitis (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis – NASH), which may progress to advanced fibrosis, cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. Due to the coexistence of visceral obesity, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, NAFLD is considered to be the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. In recent years, in the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and also NAFLD, more and more attention has been paid to the so-called organokines, proteins with both paracrine or/ and endocrine activities. These include most known adipokines (mainly produced by adipose tissue), myokines (mainly produced by skeletal muscles) and hepatokines exclusively or predominantly produced by the liver. It was shown that the liver may affect the lipids and glucose metabolism by hepatokines released into the blood and NAFLD seems to be associated with altered hepatokines production. Fetuin-A, fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF-21), selenoprotein P, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), angiopoietin-related growth factor (also known as angiopoietin-related protein 6) and leukocyte derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2) are considered as the most important hepatokines. In this review, we provide an overview of the main hepatokines and we summarize the association of liver-derived proteins with the development and progression of NAFLD.