Hypertension and NAFLD risk: Insights from the NHANES 2017-2018 and Mendelian randomization analyses

Chin Med J (Engl). 2024 Feb 20;137(4):457-464. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000002753. Epub 2023 Jul 14.


Background: Hypertension and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) share several pathophysiologic risk factors, and the exact relationship between the two remains unclear. Our study aims to provide evidence concerning the relationship between hypertension and NAFLD by analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2017-2018 and Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses.

Methods: Weighted multivariable-adjusted logistic regression was applied to assess the relationship between hypertension and NAFLD risk by using data from the NHANES 2017-2018. Subsequently, a two-sample MR study was performed using the genome-wide association study (GWAS) summary statistics to identify the causal association between hypertension, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and NAFLD. The primary inverse variance weighted (IVW) and other supplementary MR approaches were conducted to verify the causal association between hypertension and NAFLD. Sensitivity analyses were adopted to confirm the robustness of the results.

Results: A total of 3144 participants were enrolled for our observational study in NHANES. Weighted multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analysis suggested that hypertension was positively related to NAFLD risk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.677; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.159-2.423). SBP ≥130 mmHg and DBP ≥80 mmHg were also significantly positively correlated with NAFLD. Moreover, hypertension was independently connected with liver steatosis ( β = 7.836 [95% CI, 2.334-13.338]). The results of MR analysis also supported a causal association between hypertension (OR = 7.203 [95% CI, 2.297-22.587]) and NAFLD. Similar results were observed for the causal exploration between SBP (OR = 1.024 [95% CI, 1.003-1.046]), DBP (OR = 1.047 [95% CI, 1.005-1.090]), and NAFLD. The sensitive analysis further confirmed the robustness and reliability of these findings (all P >0.05).

Conclusion: Hypertension was associated with an increased risk of NAFLD.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / genetics
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / genetics
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Reproducibility of Results