Objective: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is commonly associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Several studies suggest that NAFLD is independently associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in nondiabetic subjects. In type 2 diabetic subjects, the link between fatty liver and atherosclerosis is less clear. In this study, we set out to determine, whether fatty liver content, evaluated using 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a very precise imaging technique, was associated with atherosclerosis in people with type 2 diabetes.
Research design and methods: A total of 101 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus were included in this study. Liver fat (1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy) and carotid intima media thickness (IMT) were measured.
Results: Sixty-one (60.3%) patients had steatosis (hepatic triglyceride content greater than 5.5%). Liver fat content was correlated with fasting serum triglycerides (r = 0.22; P = 0.02) and alanine aminotransferase (r = 0.42; P = 0.0001). Sixty-eight percent of subjects with severe steatosis (hepatic triglyceride content greater than 15%) had aspartate aminotransferase in the normal range. Age was strongly correlated with IMT (r = 0.37; P = 0.0002). Steatosis did not correlate with IMT (r = -0.03; P = 0.75). There was no significant difference between the two groups (with and without hepatic steatosis) for IMT values.
Conclusions: this study suggests that in people with type 2 diabetes, fatty liver is not associated with cardiovascular disease. In a diabetic population, it seems that fatty liver is not a determinant factor associated with carotid IMT.