Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has emerged as a growing public health problem worldwide. Increasing recognition of the importance of NAFLD and its association with the features of the metabolic syndrome has stimulated an interest in its putative role in the development and progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Accumulating evidence suggests that NAFLD and CKD share many important cardio-metabolic risk factors and common pathogenetic mechanisms and that NAFLD is associated with an increased prevalence and incidence of CKD. This association appears to be independent of obesity, hypertension, and other potentially confounding factors, and it occurs both in patients without diabetes and in those with diabetes. Although further research is needed to establish a definitive conclusion, these observations raise the possibility that NAFLD is not only a marker of CKD but also might play a part in the pathogenesis of CKD, possibly through the systemic release of several pro-inflammatory/pro-coagulant mediators from the steatotic/inflamed liver or through the contribution of NAFLD itself to insulin resistance and atherogenic dyslipidemia. However, given the heterogeneity and small number of observational longitudinal studies, further research is urgently required to corroborate the prognostic significance of NAFLD for the incidence of CKD, and to further elucidate the complex and intertwined mechanisms that link NAFLD and CKD. If confirmed in future large-scale prospective studies, the potential adverse impact of NAFLD on kidney disease progression will deserve particular attention, especially with respect to the implications for screening and surveillance strategies in the growing number of patients with NAFLD.
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