The macrophage activation marker sCD163 is associated with changes in NAFLD and metabolic profile during lifestyle intervention in obese children

Pediatr Obes. 2015 Jun;10(3):226-33. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.252. Epub 2014 Jul 30.


Background: Obesity is associated with metabolic derangement and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Macrophages are involved in liver inflammation and fibrosis, and soluble (s)CD163 is a macrophage activation marker.

Objectives: To associate sCD163 with parameters of paediatric obesity and NAFLD, as well as changes in these parameters during lifestyle intervention.

Methods: We studied 117 obese children during a 10-week lifestyle intervention; 71 completed the 12-month follow-up. We recorded clinical and biochemical data, and performed liver ultrasonography.

Results: Baseline sCD163 was higher in children with elevated alanine transaminase (ALT) (2.3 ± 0.7 vs. 2.0 ± 0.6 mg L(-1), P = 0.03), steatosis (2.3 ± 0.7 vs. 2.0 ± 0.6 mg L(-1), P = 0.01) and high paediatric NAFLD fibrosis index (2.3 ± 0.7 vs. 1.9 ± 0.6 mg L(-1) , P = 0.03). Baseline sCD163 was independently associated with ALT, cholesterol and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). The change in sCD163 during lifestyle intervention was associated with changes in ALT, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), hs-CRP and cholesterol, and inversely associated with the change in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Conclusion: sCD163 was associated with markers of liver injury and metabolic parameters in obese children, and changes in these parameters during lifestyle intervention. This may suggest that activated macrophages play a role in NAFLD and sCD163 may serve as a marker of liver disease severity and treatment effect.

Keywords: CD163; childhood obesity; macrophages; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / metabolism*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Child
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Macrophage Activation*
  • Male
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / metabolism*
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Weight Loss


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • Biomarkers
  • CD163 antigen
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Alanine Transaminase