Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is an important cause of chronic hepatitis and cryptogenic cirrhosis. The natural history of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is not well understood especially in Asian populations.
Aim: To investigate the histological progression in Chinese patients with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Methods: Chinese patients who had liver biopsy at least 3 years ago and confirmed to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were invited for a second liver biopsy. Clinical and laboratory parameters related to their liver function and metabolic syndrome were recorded and analysed. Liver biopsies were scored for the degree of steatosis, necroinflammation and fibrosis. Correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the association between changes in histological scores and metabolic parameters.
Results: Seventeen patients who had been followed up for a median period of 6.1 (range: 3.8-8.0) years underwent a second liver biopsy. Nine (53%) patients had progressive disease with worsening of fibrosis score. No statistically significant correlation was found between the changes in histological scores and metabolic parameters. Seven patients developed hypertension or diabetes mellitus during the period of follow-up.
Conclusions: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a progressive disease in Chinese patients as in their Caucasian counterparts. Diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may predate development of new components of metabolic syndrome.