Background & aims: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and metabolic syndrome are reaching epidemic levels worldwide, but data in Asia remain scarce. This cross-sectional study examined the metabolic and adipokine profiles of Chinese patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD and factors associated with severe disease.
Methods: Eighty ethnic Chinese with NAFLD and 41 healthy controls were recruited. Metabolic parameters and fasting adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), leptin, and resistin levels were measured on the day of liver biopsy. Histology was scored according to Brunt's criteria. Metabolic syndrome was assessed by using both the International Diabetes Federation and Adult Treatment Panel III criteria.
Results: Twenty-eight patients had simple steatosis, and 52 patients had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), defined as necroinflammatory grade >/=2 and/or fibrosis by Brunt's criteria. The ethnic-specific International Diabetes Federation criteria identified more cases of metabolic syndrome among NAFLD patients than the Adult Treatment Panel III criteria (70% vs 56%, P < .0001). On multivariate analysis, low adiponectin level, increased leptin level, and diabetes mellitus were associated with NAFLD. High TNF-alpha level and high body mass index were independent factors associated with NASH. TNF-alpha level had positive correlation with necroinflammatory grade (R = .35, P = .002) and fibrosis stage (R = .31, P = .005).
Conclusions: Hypoadiponectinemia and elevated TNF-alpha levels are associated with the development of NAFLD and NASH, respectively, independent of other metabolic factors. Ethnic-specific definition of metabolic syndrome is more useful in the assessment of NAFLD patients.