- 1Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Medical Faculty of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Epidemiology, IQVIA, Frankfurt Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Background: Recently the incidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has risen to become the most frequent liver disease worldwide. NAFLD is not a disease limited to the liver, but rather represents a systemic inflammatory disease involving multiple organ systems. Previous studies have suggested an association between NAFLD and coeliac disease, another disease related to inflammation. As the available clinical data is scarce and at least partially contradictory, we aimed at investigating a potential association between NAFLD and celiac disease in outpatients in Germany.
Methods: Using the Disease Analyzer database featuring data on diagnoses, prescriptions and demographic variables for 7.49 million cases of patients followed in general practices in Germany, we matched a total of 57 336 patients with NAFLD/diagnosed between 2000 and 2015 to a cohort of equal size without NAFLD by age, sex and index year. Incidence of celiac disease was compared between groups within 10 years from the index date.
Results: During the 10-years observation period, we observed a higher incidence of coeliac disease in NAFLD patients compared to patients without NAFLD (11.2 vs. 7.5 cases per 100 000 patients' years). Interestingly, this association was most prominent in men (hazard ratio, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.01-4.04) and patients between 18 and 50 years (hazard ratio, 2.79; 95% CI, 1.12-6.94).
Summary: Our data suggest that NAFLD promotes the development of coeliac disease particularly in young men. This finding argues that coeliac disease should be recognized as another nonliver-related complication of NAFLD and suggests screening of selected NAFLD patients for the presence of coeliac disease.