Background: Liver diseases are associated with the excess formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which induce tissue inflammation and oxidative damage. However, the trend of oxidative marker levels according to the steatosis grade in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is unclear.
Aim: To compare serum AGE levels between participants with NAFLD accordingly to steatosis severity in the baseline ELSA-Brasil population.
Methods: In 305 individuals at baseline ELSA-Brasil, NAFLD-associated steatosis was classified by ultrasound hepatic attenuation. The participants were grouped according to the severity of steatosis: mild and moderate/severe pooled. The measurement of serum fluorescent AGE concentrations was based on spectrofluorimetric detection. Serum AGE content and clinical and laboratory characteristics of the participants were compared between groups. The correlation between serum AGE levels and the grade of steatosis was analyzed. Logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship between serum AGE levels and steatosis severity. A P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: According to the steatosis severity spectrum in NAFLD, from mild to moderate/severe, individuals with the most severe steatosis grade had a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome (63% vs 34%, P ≤ 0.001), diabetes mellitus (37% vs 14%, P ≤ 0.001), and high cholesterol levels (51% vs 33%, P < 0.001). Moreover, individuals with increasing severity of steatosis presented increasing waist circumference, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin, insulin, triglycerides, alanine aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, C-reactive protein, and uric acid levels and lower high-density lipoprotein. Higher serum AGE content was present in the moderate/severe group of individuals than in the mild group (P = 0.008). In addition, the serum AGE levels were correlated with the steatosis grade in the overall sample (rho = 0.146, P = 0.010). Logistic regression analysis, after adjusting for confounding variables, showed that subjects with higher serum AGE content had a 4.6-fold increased chance of having moderate or severe steatosis when compared to low levels of serum AGEs. According to the results of the receiver operator characteristic curves analyses (areas under the curve, AUC = 0.83), AGEs could be a good marker of steatosis severity in patients with NAFLD and might be a potential biomarker in predicting NAFLD progression, strengthening the involvement of AGE in NAFLD pathogenesis.
Conclusion: NAFLD-associated steatosis was associated with serum AGE levels; therefore, plasmatic fluorescent AGE quantification by spectroscopy could be a promising alternative method to monitor progression from mild to severe NAFLD accordingly to steatosis grade.
Keywords: Advanced glycation end products; ELSA-Brasil study; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Spectroscopy; Steatosis.
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