Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease--a common and benign finding in octogenarian patients

Liver Int. 2004 Dec;24(6):588-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2004.0969.x.


Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a common entity in the general population, has been shown to be linked with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Several of the components of the metabolic syndrome are more common in the aged population. The aims of the current study were to determine in the aged, the prevalence and the clinical presentation of NAFLD, as well as the relation to the underlying metabolic abnormalities.

Method: In this prospective study, we evaluated 91 octogenarians with a mean age of 85.56+/-3.76 years, who were admitted to the rehabilitation departments of a geriatric hospital. Clinical evaluation included: abdominal ultrasound (US), fasting glucose and lipid levels, serum liver enzymes, ferritin, iron and transferrin saturation. Elderly patients with NAFLD were compared with 46 young patients with NAFLD.

Results: NAFLD diagnosed by US was a common finding in this aged population, is present in 42/91 patients (46.2%). No significant differences were observed between the patients with or without NAFLD in the following: age, gender, chronic illnesses, anthropometric parameters, lipid profile, fasting glucose levels, metabolic syndrome prevalence, serum levels of transaminases, ferritin and iron. Young patients with NAFLD had significantly higher serum levels of triglycerides and a significantly higher prevalence of glucose intolerance, obesity and the metabolic syndrome compared with the elderly patients with NAFLD.

Conclusions: NAFLD was a common finding in our group of elderly patients and the prevalence was higher than reported in the general population. In contrast to the well-described association between the metabolic syndrome and NAFLD in the general population, we did not find this association in the aged group. In addition, none of the patients had stigmata of advanced liver disease. These data suggest that NAFLD is a common and benign finding in the elderly population, but is not associated with the metabolic syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis*
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors