Smoking results in accumulation of ectopic fat in the liver

Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2019 Jul 9;12:1075-1080. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S212495. eCollection 2019.


Objective: An association between smoking and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has been reported. However, objective quantification of intrahepatic fat via magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in relation to smoking has rarely been performed in previous studies. Moreover, the possible pathways via which smoking could induce ectopic fat accumulation have not yet been addressed. The current study aimed to examine the association between smoking status and intrahepatic fat quantity and explore the possible mediating effects of triglycerides (TG) and adiponectin.

Subjects and methods: Magnetic resonance imager (MRI) spectra were analyzed to quantify intrahepatic fat in 45 men who were on average 62.3 years of age. Smoking status and alcohol intake were self-reported. Accelerometers were used to record daily total physical activity. Fasting blood TG and adiponectin levels were measured enzymatically. Differences in mean intrahepatic fat values according to smoking status were assessed using analysis of covariance.

Results: A stepwise increase in mean intrahepatic fat was observed between never, former, and current smokers, respectively, independent of age, physical activity, alcohol intake, and body mass index (BMI) (P=0.005). Adjustment for TG and adiponectin significantly attenuated this association (P=0.074).

Conclusion: Current smoking was significantly associated with increased intrahepatic fat, which may be a result of adipocyte dysfunction, manifested as high circulating TG concentrations and low adiponectin levels.

Keywords: adiponectin; cigarette smoking; cross-sectional study; intrahepatic fat; triglycerides.