Metabolic Profile Reflects Stages of Fibrosis in Patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Feb 10;24(4):3563. doi: 10.3390/ijms24043563.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a leading cause of chronic liver disease worldwide, with fibrosis stage being the main predictor for clinical outcomes. Here, we present the metabolic profile of NAFLD patients with regards to fibrosis progression. We included all consecutive new referrals for NAFLD services between 2011 and 2019. Demographic, anthropometric and clinical features and noninvasive markers of fibrosis were recorded at baseline and at follow-up. Significant and advanced fibrosis were defined using liver stiffness measurement (LSM) as LSM ≥ 8.1 kPa and LSM ≥ 12.1 kPa, respectively. Cirrhosis was diagnosed either histologically or clinically. Fast progressors of fibrosis were defined as those with delta stiffness ≥ 1.03 kPa/year (25% upper quartile of delta stiffness distribution). Targeted and untargeted metabolic profiles were analysed on fasting serum samples using Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR). A total of 189 patients were included in the study; 111 (58.7%) underwent liver biopsy. Overall, 11.1% patients were diagnosed with cirrhosis, while 23.8% were classified as fast progressors. A combination of metabolites and lipoproteins could identify the fast fibrosis progressors (AUROC 0.788, 95% CI: 0.703-0.874, p < 0.001) and performed better than noninvasive markers. Specific metabolic profiles predict fibrosis progression in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Algorithms combining metabolites and lipids could be integrated in the risk-stratification of these patients.

Keywords: NAFLD; fast fibrosers; fibrosis; metabolic profile.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / pathology

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