Non-alcoholic fatty liver: another feature of the metabolic syndrome?

Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;18(6):353-8. doi: 10.1016/s0261-5614(99)80015-6.


Background and aims: Hepatic steatosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) have been associated with obesity, non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia. The present study was designed in order to evaluate whether patients with steatosis/NASH presented common features with the metabolic syndrome.

Methods: In 30 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes; the glucose/insulin profile, lipid profile, and serum leptin were evaluated and correlated with body composition and energy expenditure, assessed by bioimpedance spectroscopy and indirect calorimetry, respectively. Results were compared with a group of eight controls.

Results: Obesity was present in 80% of patients, hypertension in 50% and non insulin dependent diabetes in 33%. Glucose metabolism was altered in 69%, with elevated insulin in 14 patients. Serum leptin, higher in women, was increased in patients: 33.9 +/- 38.9 vs 9.6 +/- 6.9 ng/ml, P< 0.05. There was a correlation between insulin and leptin, both of which correlated with body mass index, fat mass and percentage of body fat. Dyslipidaemia was found in 80% of patients: 45% presented low high density lipoproteins cholesterol, 58% high low density lipoproteins and 38% elevated very low density lipoproteins.

Conclusions: There is a strong association between nonalcoholic fatty liver and features of the metabolic syndrome, suggesting a simultaneous insulin resistance and decreased sensitivity to leptin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Body Composition
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / complications*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Syndrome


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Leptin