INTRODUCTION: Chronic liver disease is due to various causes of persistent liver damage and will eventually lead to the development of liver fibrosis. If no treatment is initiated, this condition may progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current treatments comprise the elimination of the cause of injury, such as by lifestyle changes, alcohol abstinence, and antiviral agents. However, such etiology-driven therapy is often insufficient in patients with late-stage fibrosis/cirrhosis, therefore maintaining the need for efficient antifibrotic pharmacotherapeutic interventions.
AREAS COVERED: The authors discuss the recent advances in the development of antifibrotic drugs, which target various pathways of the fibrogenesis process, including cell death, inflammation, gut-liver axis, and myofibroblast activation. Due to the significant burden of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), various agents which specifically target metabolic pathways and their related receptors/ligands have been developed. For some of them, e.g., obeticholic acid, advanced stage clinical trials indicate antifibrotic efficacy in NAFLD and NASH.
EXPERT OPINION: Significant advances have been made in the development of novel antifibrotic pharmacotherapeutics. The authors expect that the development of combinatorial therapies, which combine compounds that target various pathways of fibrosis progression, will have a major impact as future etiology-independent therapies.