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Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Aspects on Diagnosis and Long-term Prognosis
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Heart and Medicine Center, Department of Gastroentorology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2928-4188
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease affecting approximately 25% of the global population and is commonly recognized as the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. The histological spectrum of NAFLD ranges from isolated steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), with risk of developing fibrosis and subsequent cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The gold standard for diagnosing NAFLD is liver biopsy. However, because of its invasive nature, several non-invasive methods have been developed and validated in evaluating fat and fibrosis in patients with NAFLD.

Liver fat content can be assessed using various methods. The conventional histopathological method consists of a visual semiquantitative approach in which the pathologist uses a four-point scale: grade 0 corresponds to fat deposition in <5% of hepatocytes and grade 1−3 (which is needed for the diagnosis of NAFLD) corresponds to ≥5%. An alternate approach is to quantitatively assess steatosis using stereological point counting (SPC) – which rely on liver biopsy. However, in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) is a reliable noninvasive method that can be used to quantitatively assess total hepatic lipid content, or proton density fat fraction (PDFF).

In Paper I we compared the conventional semiquantitative histological method (grade 0-3) with SPC and 1H-MRS. We found a strong positive correlation between 1H-MRS and SPC, whereas the correlations between 1H-MRS or SPC and histopathological grading were substantially weaker. Using the widely used cut-off value of PDFF ≥5%, all participants were found to have steatosis (specificity 100%, sensitivity 53%). Reducing the cut-off value to 3% maintained 100% specificity while increasing sensitivity to 79%.

In Paper IV we evaluated quantitative steatosis, by SPC, in 106 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients during a 20-year follow-up. SPC was independently associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and development of T2DM. Moreover, in the 59 patients with sequential biopsies (approximately 10 years apart), a reduction of quantitative hepatic steatosis decreased the all-time risk of developing T2DM.

NASH is commonly seen as a histological feature portending a worse prognosis in NAFLD. Interestingly, no dual biopsy study has ever shown that NASH predicts fibrosis progression. Yet, NASH is seen as a surrogate marker in pharmaceutical trials – were resolution in NASH is equivalent to future resolution of fibrosis.

In Paper II we conducted a long-term follow-up study (20 years) in a large cohort of biopsy-proven NAFLD patients (n=646), in a collaboration with Karolinska Institute. We could not ascertain that NASH had any effect on all-cause, or disease-specific mortality. However, higher stages of fibrosis predicted all-cause and disease specific mortality. In Paper III, we present 129 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients, in which we had prospective, longitudinal data. They were included between 1988 and 1993. All patients alive, were re-invited 2003-2005 and 2013-2015. Dual biopsies were present in 68 patients, and three consecutive biopsies were available in 33 patients. Results showed that NAFLD is a highly heterogeneous disease, with 9.3% developing end-stage liver disease and 16% progressing to advanced stages of fibrosis without any clinically significant baseline data predicting disease progression. In summary, when using 1H-MRS as a diagnostic method for NAFLD, the diagnostic cut-off should be reduced from 5% to 3%. Furthermore, quantitative amount of hepatic steatosis could be used to stratify patients with NAFLD related to future risk of developing T2DM. Moreover, we have shown that NASH does not predict future all-cause or disease-specific mortality nor end-stage liver disease, therefore a different surrogate marker should be used in clinical trials when assessing NAFLD improvement, so to not imbue false reliance in new therapies. Lastly, we have shown that NAFLD has a more dismal prognosis than previously reported, and that it is unexpectedly difficult to predict fibrosis progression in individual NAFLD patients, emphasizing the need for robust non-invasive biomarkers suitable to monitor large number of patients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2019. , p. 98
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1690
National Category
Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-160523DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-160523ISBN: 9789176850381 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-160523DiVA, id: diva2:1354529
Public defence
2019-10-25, Berzeliussalen, Building 463, Campus US, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-09-25 Created: 2019-09-25 Last updated: 2019-09-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Using a 3% Proton Density Fat Fraction as a Cut-off Value Increases Sensitivity of Detection of Hepatic Steatosis, Based on Results from Histopathology Analysis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using a 3% Proton Density Fat Fraction as a Cut-off Value Increases Sensitivity of Detection of Hepatic Steatosis, Based on Results from Histopathology Analysis
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2017 (English)In: Gastroenterology, ISSN 0016-5085, E-ISSN 1528-0012, Vol. 153, no 1, p. 53-+Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It is possible to estimate hepatic triglyceride content by calculating the proton density fat fraction (PDFF), using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (less thansuperscriptgreater than1less than/superscriptgreater thanH-MRS), instead of collecting and analyzing liver biopsies to detect steatosis. However, the current PDFF cut-off value (5%) used to define steatosis by magnetic resonance was derived from studies that did not use histopathology as the reference standard. We performed a prospective study to determine the accuracy of less thansuperscriptgreater than1less than/superscriptgreater thanH-MRS PDFF in measurement of steatosis using histopathology analysis as the standard. We collected clinical, serologic, less thansuperscriptgreater than1less than/superscriptgreater thanH-MRS PDFF, and liver biopsy data from 94 adult patients with increased levels of liver enzymes (6 months or more) referred to the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Linköping University Hospital in Sweden from 2007 through 2014. Steatosis was graded using the conventional histopathology method and fat content was quantified in biopsy samples using stereological point counts (SPCs). We correlated less thansuperscriptgreater than1less than/superscriptgreater thanH-MRS PDFF findings with SPCs (r = 0.92; P less than.001). less thansuperscriptgreater than1less than/superscriptgreater thanH-MRS PDFF results correlated with histopathology results (ρ = 0.87; P less than.001), and SPCs correlated with histopathology results (ρ = 0.88; P less than.001). All 25 subjects with PDFF values of 5.0% or more had steatosis based on histopathology findings (100% specificity for PDFF). However, of 69 subjects with PDFF values below 5.0% (negative result), 22 were determined to have steatosis based on histopathology findings (53% sensitivity for PDFF). Reducing the PDFF cut-off value to 3.0% identified patients with steatosis with 100% specificity and 79% sensitivity; a PDFF cut-off value of 2.0% identified patients with steatosis with 94% specificity and 87% sensitivity. These findings might be used to improve non-invasive detection of steatosis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017
National Category
Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-136544 (URN)10.1053/j.gastro.2017.03.005 (DOI)000403918300022 ()
Note

Funding agencies: Swedish Research Council/Medicine and Health [VR/M 2007-2884, VR/M 2012-3199]; Swedish Research Council/Natural and Engineering Sciences [VR/NT 2014-6157]; Swedish Innovation Agency VINNOVA [2013-01314]; Region Ostergotland (ALF)

Available from: 2017-04-19 Created: 2017-04-19 Last updated: 2019-09-25Bibliographically approved
2. Fibrosis stage but not NASH predicts mortality and time to development of severe liver disease in biopsy-proven NAFLD
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fibrosis stage but not NASH predicts mortality and time to development of severe liver disease in biopsy-proven NAFLD
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2017 (English)In: Journal of Hepatology, ISSN 0168-8278, E-ISSN 1600-0641, Vol. 67, no 6, p. 1265-1273Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background amp; Aims: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is very common in the general population, but identifying patients with increased risk of mortality and liver-specific morbidity remains a challenge. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is thought to enhance this risk; therefore, resolution of NASH is a major endpoint in current pharmacologic studies. Herein, we aim to investigate the long-term prognosis of a large cohort of NAFLD patients, and to study the specific effect of NASH and fibrosis stage on prognosis. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 646 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients. Each case was matched for age, sex and municipality to ten controls. Outcomes on mortality and severe liver disease, defined as cirrhosis, liver decompensation/failure or hepatocellular carcinoma, were evaluated using population-based registers. Cox regression models adjusted for age, sex and type 2 diabetes were used to examine the long-term risk according to fibrosis stage. Likelihood ratio tests were used to assess whether adding NASH to these models increased the predictive capacity. Laplace regression was used to estimate the time to severe liver disease according to stage of fibrosis. Results: During a follow-up of mean 20 years (range 0-40) equivalent to 139,163 person-years, 12% of NAFLD patients and 2.2% of controls developed severe liver disease (p amp;lt; 0.001). Compared to controls, the risk of severe liver disease increased per stage of fibrosis (hazard ratio ranging from 1.9 in F0 to 104.9 in F4). Accounting for the presence of NASH did not change these estimates significantly (likelihood ratio test amp;gt; 0.05 for all stages of fibrosis). Similar results were seen for overall mortality. The lower end of the 95% confidence interval for the 10th percentile of time to development of severe liver disease was 22-26 years in F0-1, 9.3 years in F2, 2.3 years in F3, and 0.9 years to liver decompensation in F4. Conclusions: In this, the largest ever study of biopsy-proven NAFLD, the presence of NASH did not increase the risk of liver-specific morbidity or overall mortality. Knowledge of time to development of severe liver disease according to fibrosis stage can be used in individual patient counselling and for public health decisions. (C) 2017 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2017
Keywords
Steatosis; Cirrhosis; Epidemiology
National Category
Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-143355 (URN)10.1016/j.jhep.2017.07.027 (DOI)000415325900019 ()
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences; Bengt Ihre scholarship; Swedish Gastroenterology Fund

Available from: 2017-12-05 Created: 2017-12-05 Last updated: 2019-09-25
3. Natural history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A prospective follow-up study with serial biopsies.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Natural history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A prospective follow-up study with serial biopsies.
2018 (English)In: Hepatology communications, ISSN 2471-254X, Vol. 2, no 2, p. 199-210Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent chronic liver disease in the world. The complete natural history of NAFLD is unknown because few high-quality follow-up studies have been conducted. Our aim was to find variables predicting disease severity through an extended follow-up with serial biopsies. In a prospective cohort study, 129 patients who enrolled between 1988 and 1993 were asked to participate in a follow-up study on two occasions; biochemical, clinical, and histologic data were documented. The mean time between biopsies was 13.7 (±1.7) and 9.3 (±1.0) years, respectively. At the end of the study period, 12 patients (9.3%) had developed end-stage liver disease and 34% had advanced fibrosis. Out of the 113 patients with baseline low fibrosis (<3), 16% developed advanced fibrosis. Fibrosis progression did not differ among the different stages of baseline fibrosis (P = 0.374). Fifty-six patients (43%) had isolated steatosis, of whom 9% developed advanced fibrosis (3 patients with biopsy-proven fibrosis stage F3-F4 and 2 patients with end-stage liver disease). Fibrosis stage, ballooning, and diabetes were more common in patients who developed end-stage liver disease; however, there were no baseline clinical, histologic, or biochemical variables that predicted clinical significant disease progression. Conclusion: NAFLD is a highly heterogeneous disease, and it is surprisingly hard to predict fibrosis progression. Given enough time, NAFLD seems to have a more dismal prognosis then previously reported, with 16% of patients with fibrosis stage <3 developing advanced fibrosis and 9.3% showing signs of end-stage liver disease. (Hepatology Communications 2018;2:199-210).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2018
National Category
Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-146233 (URN)10.1002/hep4.1134 (DOI)29404527 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2018-04-04 Created: 2018-04-04 Last updated: 2019-09-25

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23456785 of 17
CiteExportLink to record
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