Background: Liver biopsy is considered as the gold standard for assessing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) histologic lesions. The aim of this study was to determine the diagnostic utility of non-invasive markers of fibrosis, validated in chronic viral hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease (FibroTest, FT), in patients with NAFLD.
Methods: 170 patients with suspected NAFLD were prospectively included in a reference center (Group 1), 97 in a multicenter study (Group 2) and 954 blood donors as controls. Fibrosis was assessed on a 5 stage histological scale validated by Kleiner et al from F0 = none, F1 = perisinusoidal or periportal, F2 = perisinusoidal and portal/periportal, F3 = bridging and F4 = cirrhosis. Histology and the biochemical measurements were blinded to any other characteristics. The area under the ROC curves (AUROC), sensitivity (Se), specificity (Sp), positive and negative predictive values (PPV, NPV) were assessed.
Results: In both groups FT has elevated and not different AUROCs for the diagnosis of advanced fibrosis (F2F3F4): 0.86 (95%CI 0.77-0.91) versus 0.75 (95%CI 0.61-0.83; P = 0.10), and for F3F4: 0.92 (95%CI 0.83-0.96) versus 0.81 (95%CI 0.64-0.91; P = 0.12) in Group 1 and Group 2 respectively. When the 2 groups were pooled together a FT cutoff of 0.30 had a 90% NPV for advanced fibrosis (Se 77%); a FT cutoff of 0.70 had a 73% PPV for advanced fibrosis (Sp 98%).
Conclusion: In patients with NAFLD, FibroTest, a simple and non-invasive quantitative estimate of liver fibrosis reliably predicts advanced fibrosis.