The Liver –Front and Center

Before proceeding with today’s post, those who read yesterday’s post may be interested in Atul Gawande’s take on the NEJM checklist publication -here’s the link (from Atul Gawande’s twitter feed):

A recent review “Extrahepatic Complications of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease” (NAFLD)(Hepatology 2014; 59: 1174-97) seems to position the liver as the center of a multitude of problems rather than one of many associated problems.

It is known that NAFLD increases the risk of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma.  However, the majority of deaths among individuals with NAFLD are attributed to cardiovascular disease and malignancy.  This lengthy review describes in great detail the associations between NAFLD and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), chronic kidney disease (CKD), and colorectal neoplasm.  The presence of NAFLD appears to convey an independent increase in risk for these conditions.

Key points:

  • “The aggregated evidence provides strong evidence that individuals with NAFLD are at increased “independent” risk of developing CVD.  The risk of CVD mortality may be greater in subgroups of subjects with NASH and advanced fibrosis, compared to those with simple steatosis.”
  • “USS-defined NAFLD is associated with a 2- to 5-fold risk of developing T2DM after adjustment of several lifestyle and metabolic confounders.”
  • “NAFLD (in particular, biopsy-proven NASH) is associated with a greater prevalence of CKD (20% to 50% of patients). USS-defined NAFLD carries a 1.5- to 2-fold adjusted risk of incident CKD.”
  • “A true causal relationship between and NASH and colorectal cancer cannot be confirmed.”
  • Other potential extrahepatic manifestations: hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and osteoporosis.

Take-Home Message: NAFLD has independent associations for greater risk of CVD, hyperglycemia, and malignancy.  Whether these associations are simply an epiphenomenon  of more aggressive metabolic syndrome or whether the liver injury primarily causes these additional risks remains unclear.

Related blog posts:

2 thoughts on “The Liver –Front and Center

  1. Pingback: Hepatology Update -Summer 2014 | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: Rising Rates of Pediatric Fatty Liver | gutsandgrowth

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