Objectives: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is defined as the spectrum of benign fatty liver to necroinflammation and fibrosis. Its prevalence has been found to be as high as 39%. It is estimated that up to 15% of those affected will go on to have progressive liver disease. Currently, there is no proven therapy for NAFLD. In this study, we aim to determine whether statin therapy may be an effective treatment for NAFLD and identify independent predictors of NAFLD.
Methods: In all, 1,005 men and women, aged 50-70 years were randomized to receive either a daily combination of atorvastatin 20 mg, vitamin C 1 g, and vitamin E 1,000 IU vs. matching placebo, as part of the St Francis Heart Study randomized clinical trial. Liver to spleen (LS) ratios were calculated on 455 subjects with available computed tomography scans performed at baseline and follow-up to determine NAFLD prevalence. Baseline and final LS ratios were compared within treatment groups, and results were compared between the treatment and placebo groups using univariate and multivariate analyses. Mean duration of follow-up was 3.6 years.
Results: There were 80 patients with NAFLD at baseline. We identified baseline triglyceride levels (odds ratio (OR)=1.003, P<0.001) and body mass index (OR=0.10, P<0.001) as independent correlates of NAFLD. Treatment with atorvastatin combined with vitamins E and C significantly reduced the odds of NAFLD at the end of follow-up, 70 vs. 34% (OR=0.29, P<0.001).
Conclusions: In conclusion, atorvastatin 20 mg combined with vitamins C and E is effective in reducing the odds of having hepatic steatosis by 71% in healthy individuals with NAFLD at baseline after 4 years of active therapy.