Introduction: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) may progress to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis and complicated hepatocellular carcinoma with defined differential symptoms and manifestations.
Objective: To evaluate the fatty liver status by several validated approaches and to compare imaging techniques, lipidomic and routine blood markers with magnetic resonance imaging in adults subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Materials and methods: A total of 127 overweight/obese with NAFLD, were parallelly assessed by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, transient elastography and a validated metabolomic designed test to diagnose NAFLD in this cross-sectional study. Body composition (DXA), hepatic related biochemical measurements as well as the Fatty Liver Index (FLI) were evaluated. This study was registered as FLiO: Fatty Liver in Obesity study; NCT03183193.
Results: The subjects with more severe liver disease were found to have worse metabolic parameters. Positive associations between MRI with inflammatory and insulin biomarkers were found. A linear regression model including ALT, RBP4 and HOMA-IR was able to explain 40.9% of the variability in fat content by MRI. In ROC analyses a combination panel formed of ALT, HOMA-IR and RBP4 followed by ultrasonography, ALT and metabolomic test showed the major predictive ability (77.3%, 74.6%, 74.3% and 71.1%, respectively) for liver fat content.
Conclusions: A panel combination including routine blood markers linked to insulin resistance showed highest associations with MRI considered as a gold standard for determining liver fat content. This combination of tests can facilitate the diagnosis of early stages of non-alcoholic liver disease thereby avoiding other invasive and expensive methods.
Keywords: FibroScan; MRI; NAFLD.; ROC; liver fat content; ultrasound.