The association of serum FGF23 and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is independent of vitamin D in type 2 diabetes patients

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2018 Jul;45(7):668-674. doi: 10.1111/1440-1681.12933. Epub 2018 Apr 25.


Recent studies have shown that circulating fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 23 and vitamin D levels are closely correlated with insulin resistance. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship among serum FGF 23 levels, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). This study enrolled 331 hospitalized T2DM patients (209 patients with NAFLD and 122 patients without NAFLD). Serum FGF23 levels were measured using a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Serum 25(OH)D levels were determined by an electrochemiluminescence immunoassay. NAFLD was diagnosed by hepatic ultrasound, and the fatty liver index (FLI) was calculated to quantify hepatic steatosis. Results showed that T2DM patients with NAFLD had significantly higher serum FGF23 levels (44.17 [37.92-51.30] pg/mL vs 40.21 [34.07-48.33] pg/mL, P = .002), but lower serum 25(OH)D levels (16.43 [12.70-21.37] ng/mL vs 19.59 [13.78-26.26] ng/mL, P = .002) than those without NAFLD. Moreover, the incidence rate of NAFLD increased with increasing serum FGF23 levels and decreased with increasing 25(OH)D levels (both P < .05). Logistic regression analysis showed that both serum FGF23 and 25(OH)D levels were independent factors for NAFLD (both P < .05). Furthermore, a multiple stepwise regression analysis also revealed that both serum FGF23 and 25(OH)D levels were independently correlated with FLI (both P < .01). In conclusion, both high FGF23 and low vitamin D levels showed an independent relationship with NAFLD in Chinese T2DM patients, indicating that FGF23 and vitamin D function via different regulatory pathways in the liver.

Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; fibroblast growth factor 23; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / blood*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / complications*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • FGF23 protein, human
  • Vitamin D
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D