Less liver fibrosis in metabolically healthy compared with metabolically unhealthy obese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

2017 Diabetes & Metabolism 43;4 (332-337)

AIM: This cross-sectional study evaluated liver fibrosis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and compared the characteristics of metabolically healthy obese (MHO) with metabolically unhealthy obese (MUHO) patients. METHODS: The study was nested within a randomized clinical trial (RCT) and included obese patients with NAFLD, as determined by liver ultrasonography. Fibrosis was assessed by transient elastography, and AST-to-platelet ratio index (APRI) and NAFLD score. Patients were compared according to obesity phenotype using various accepted criteria. RESULTS: The RCT included 1024 patients with NAFLD, of whom 428 (41.7%) were included in the present study. The prevalence of MHO ranged from 1.2% to 63%, depending on the criteria used. According to various criteria for metabolic health, obese patients had less liver fibrosis. MHO patients, as defined by all criteria, showed a significantly lower prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis (F3-F4) than MUHO on transient elastography (16.5% vs. 28%, respectively; P=0.05). CONCLUSION: MUHO patients are at higher risk of liver fibrosis and, therefore, the identification of obese patients with 'healthy' characteristics is imperative as their entire clinical work-ups are likely to differ.

Pubmed : 28318912