- •The prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance is uncertain in children with biopsy-proven NAFLD.
- •Children with NAFLD have a higher prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance than those without NAFLD.
- •Children with NAFLD and abnormal glucose tolerance have a higher prevalence of NASH than those with normal glucose tolerance.
- •Central adiposity is the factor that is most strongly associated with NASH.
Background & Aims
We undertook a cross-sectional study of children/adolescents with and without non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to compare the prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes, and to examine the role of abnormal glucose tolerance as a predictor of liver disease severity.
We recruited a cohort of 599 Caucasian children/adolescents with biopsy-proven NAFLD, and 118 children/adolescents without NAFLD, who were selected to be similar for age, sex, body mass index and waist circumference to those with NAFLD. The diagnosis of prediabetes and diabetes was based on either hemoglobin A1c, fasting plasma glucose or 2 h post-load glucose concentrations.
Children/adolescents with NAFLD had a significantly higher prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance (prediabetes or diabetes) than those without NAFLD (20.6% vs. 11%, p = 0.02). In particular, 124 (20.6%) children/adolescents with NAFLD had abnormal glucose tolerance, with 19.8% (n = 119) satisfying the diagnostic criteria for prediabetes and 0.8% (n = 5) satisfying the criteria for diabetes. The combined presence of prediabetes and diabetes was associated with a nearly 2.2-fold increased risk of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH; unadjusted odds ratio 2.19; 95% CI 1.47–3.29; p <0.001). However, this association was attenuated (but remained significant) after adjustment for age, sex, waist circumference (adjusted odds ratio 1.69, 95% CI 1.06–2.69, p = 0.032), and the PNPLA3 rs738409 polymorphism. Both this PNPLA3 polymorphism and waist circumference were strongly associated with NASH.
Abnormal glucose tolerance (especially prediabetes) is highly prevalent among children/adolescents with biopsy-proven NAFLD. These children also have a higher risk of NASH, though central adiposity is the factor that is most strongly associated with NASH.
Children with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have a higher prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance (prediabetes or type 2 diabetes) than children without NAFLD. Children with biopsy-proven NAFLD and abnormal glucose tolerance also have a higher prevalence of the progressive form of disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, than those with normal glucose tolerance, though central adiposity is the factor that is most strongly associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
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Published online: July 04, 2019
Accepted: June 25, 2019
Received in revised form: June 14, 2019
Received: March 21, 2019
© 2019 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.