Clinical and histological features of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in Hong Kong Chinese

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Jul 1;20(1):45-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2004.02012.x.


Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is prevalent in affluent countries and is a cause of cirrhosis and possibly hepatocellular carcinoma.

Aim: To examine the clinical and histological features of biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and investigate the predictors of severe histological disease in Chinese patients.

Methods: Electronic records of all patients (n = 247) who underwent liver biopsy between 1996 and 2003 in our hospital were retrieved. Patients who had histological features of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were identified. The demographic, clinical, laboratory and histological (Brunt's criteria) parameters of these patients were analysed.

Results: Forty-two patients had histology-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The median age was 47 years (range 23-69). All except one patient had features of metabolic syndrome. The median alanine aminotransferase was 93 (range 24-270) IU/L. Thirty-six (85.7%) patients had steatohepatitis and 11 (26.1%) also had fibrosis. Only one patient had stage 3 fibrosis. The presence of diabetes mellitus predicted higher grade steatohepatitis and fibrosis (P = 0.019) whereas alanine aminotransferase level had no correlation with histological severity of steatohepatitis. After a median follow-up of 42 months, no patient developed hepatic decompensation.

Conclusions: Most Chinese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease had features of the metabolic syndrome. Histological activity was generally mild. Diabetes mellitus was the most important predictor of severe histological disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • China / ethnology
  • Fatty Liver / ethnology*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Hepatitis / ethnology
  • Hepatitis / pathology
  • Hong Kong / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies