Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is becoming a public health problem worldwide. While the number of research studies on NASH progression rises every year, sometime their findings are controversial. To identify the most important and commonly described findings related to NASH progression, we used an original bioinformatics, integrative, text-mining approach that combines PubMed database querying and available gene expression omnibus dataset. We have identified a signature of 25 genes that are commonly found to be dysregulated during steatosis progression to NASH and cancer. These genes are implicated in lipid metabolism, insulin resistance, inflammation, and cancer. They are functionally connected, forming the basis necessary for steatosis progression to NASH and further progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We also show that five of the identified genes have genome alterations present in HCC patients. The patients with these genes associated to genome alteration are associated with a poor prognosis. In conclusion, using an integrative literature- and data-mining approach, we have identified and described a canonical pathway underlying progression of NASH. Other parameters (e.g., polymorphisms) can be added to this pathway that also contribute to the progression of the disease to cancer. This work improved our understanding of the molecular basis of NASH progression and will help to develop new therapeutic approaches.
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