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Epidemiology and prevalence of lean nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and associated cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and cardiovascular outcomes in the United States: a population-based study and review of literature
J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2023 Feb;38(2):269-273. doi: 10.1111/jgh.16049.Epub 2022 Nov 16.
5Al Andalus University for Medical Sciences, Tartus, Syria.
Backgrounds: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome conditions. However, a subset of NAFLD patients express a normal or low body mass index (lean NAFLD [L-NAFLD]). Our aim is to compare the prevalence of L-NAFLD to the obesity-associated NAFLD in the United States by assessing prevalence, potential risk factors, liver-related complications, and coronary artery disease outcomes.
Methodology: A multicenter database (Explorys Inc.) of >70 million patients across the United States was screened. A cohort of patients with "nonalcoholic fatty liver" between 1999 and 2021 was identified. Two sub-cohorts of NAFLD patients were identified: those with a body mass index (BMI) < 25 kg/m2 (L-NAFLD) and those with a BMI > 30 kg/m2 (obesity-associated NAFLD). We excluded patients with age <18 and those who have viral hepatitis, hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, biliary cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, cystic fibrosis, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, and autoimmune hepatitis. Multivariate analysis was performed to adjust for confounders.
Results: 68 892 260 individuals were screened. NAFLD prevalence was four per 100 000, and L-NAFLD prevalence was 0.6 per 100 000. Compared with those without, patients with L-NAFLD tended to be older (OR 2.16), females (OR 1.28), and smokers (OR 4.67) and of Asian race (OR 2.12). L-NAFLD patients were more likely to have acute coronary syndromes (OR 30.00) and metabolic syndrome (OR 2.31) despite the normal/low BMI. Esophageal varices and hepatocellular carcinoma risks were high in both cirrhosis patients.
Conclusion: This is the largest study to assess L-NAFLD prevalence in the United States. L-NAFLD are at a significantly higher risk for acute coronary syndromes, esophageal varices, and hepatocellular carcinoma.