Background & aims: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is reported commonly in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), which has been suggested as a risk factor for the progressive form of NAFLD, or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The aim of this study was to assess the outcome of patients with NAFLD and DM.
Methods: A cohort of patients with NAFLD was identified, and patients with other causes of liver disease (alcohol, medication, etc.) were excluded. Clinical, pathological, and mortality data were available for this cohort. Patients were categorized and compared according to the presence or absence of DM.
Results: Of 132 patients with NAFLD, 44 patients (33%) had an established diagnosis of DM. Patients with DM were older and had greater serum glucose and triglyceride levels and a greater aspartate aminotransferase-alanine aminotransferase ratio. Liver biopsy specimens from patients with DM showed more vacuolated nuclei and acidophilic bodies. Cirrhosis (histological or clinical) occurred in 25% of patients with DM (11 of 44 patients) and NAFLD compared with only 10.2% (9 of 88 patients) of patients without DM with NAFLD (P = 0.04). After adjusting for potential confounders (age, body mass index, and the presence of cirrhosis), both overall mortality (risk ratio [RR], 3.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.76-6.18; P = 0.002) and mortality related to liver disease (RR, 22.83; 95% CI, 2.97-175.03; P = 0.003) were greater in diabetic patients with NAFLD. Markers of hepatic dysfunction (low albumin level, high total bilirubin level, and prolonged prothrombin time) were the only independent predictors of increased mortality.
Conclusions: Patients with NAFLD and DM are at risk for the development of an aggressive outcome, such as cirrhosis and mortality. This study supports the potential role of insulin resistance in the development of poor clinical outcomes in patients with NAFLD.