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Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with significant fibrosis progression in NAFLD
Linköping University, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Division of Diagnostics and Specialist Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Center for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Mag- tarmmedicinska kliniken.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6364-8758
Linköping University, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Division of Diagnostics and Specialist Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Center for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Mag- tarmmedicinska kliniken.
Linköping University, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Division of Diagnostics and Specialist Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Center for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Mag- tarmmedicinska kliniken.
Linköping University, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Division of Diagnostics and Specialist Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Center for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Mag- tarmmedicinska kliniken.
2023 (English)In: HEPATOLOGY COMMUNICATIONS, ISSN 2471-254X, Vol. 7, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The effect of moderate alcohol consumption on NAFLD histology is disputed. Assessment of alcohol consumption is commonly performed with interview or questionnaires. Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) in blood is a highly sensitive and specific alcohol biomarker, which only forms in the presence of ethanol. PEth has hitherto not been evaluated in longitudinal NAFLD studies. This study aimed to examine the impact of moderate alcohol consumption on histologic progression and evaluate the utility of PEth in NAFLD. NAFLD patients with serial biopsies were reviewed for inclusion in the study. At baseline, all patients reported alcohol consumption <140 g/week. Anthropometric and biochemical measurements were performed at baseline and follow-up. Alcohol consumption was assessed thoroughly at follow-up with clinical interview, the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) questionnaire, and analysis of PEth in whole blood. Eighty-two patients were included. Mean follow-up time was 17.2 years (SD & PLUSMN;6.0). Patients with significant fibrosis progression (defined as progression of & GE;2 stages or development of cirrhosis-related complications) reported higher alcohol consumption and had significantly higher PEth. Consumption >66-96 g/week (but <140 g) (i.e. moderate alcohol consumption) was associated with increased risk of significant fibrosis progression compared with no or low consumption. PEth & GE;48 ng/mL and binge drinking showed the highest risk for significant fibrosis progression (aOR: 5.9; 95% CI: 1.6-21.4) and aOR: 5.1; 95% CI: 1.4-18.1, respectively). NAFLD patients consuming moderate amounts of alcohol are at increased risk for significant fibrosis progression and development of cirrhosis-related complications. PEth is a potential biomarker to assess harmful alcohol consumption in NAFLD. Patients reporting moderate consumption or exhibiting PEth & GE;48 ng/mL should be advised to reduce alcohol consumption.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS , 2023. Vol. 7, no 1
National Category
Substance Abuse
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-197483DOI: 10.1097/HC9.0000000000000003ISI: 001038261400003PubMedID: 36633482OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-197483DiVA, id: diva2:1796323
Note

Funding Agencies|~ALF Grants; Region Ostergoetland; Medical Research Council of Southeast Sweden [752871]

Available from: 2023-09-12 Created: 2023-09-12 Last updated: 2023-10-23
In thesis
1. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Insights into Alcohol Consumption, Genetics, and Proteomics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Insights into Alcohol Consumption, Genetics, and Proteomics
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) affects approximately a quarter of the global population and is closely linked to type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. The disease spectrum ranges from steatosis and steatohepatitis to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular cancer. However, accurately predicting which patients will experience a progressive disease course remains a significant challenge. The variant gene of PNPLA3 is known to be associated with NAFLD and a more progressive disease, although its precise function remains unclear.   

Patients with NAFLD typically consume small to moderate amounts of alcohol, with recommended thresholds set at a maximum of 210 gram per week for males and 140 grams per week in females. However, the impact of alcohol consumption on liver disease in NAFLD remains disputed, with conflicting research findings.   

Liver biopsy is considered the gold standard for diagnosing NAFLD. However, due to its impracticality for such a large population with the condition, various non-invasive methods have been explored for diagnosing and evaluating NAFLD.  

This thesis aimed to investigate the potential effects of moderate alcohol consumption on NAFLD histology, explore the potential role of variant PNPLA3 in NAFLD, and assess the use of proteomics in classifying fibrosis.  

In Papers I and II, moderate alcohol consumption was assessed through questionnaires, clinical interviews, and measurement of the direct alcohol biomarker phosphatidylethanol (PEth). Paper I, a cross-sectional study including 86 participants, showed an association between moderate consumption and advanced fibrosis. Moderate consumption was defined as consuming more than 66 grams of ethanol per week or a PEth-value over 50 ng/mL. Notably, individuals with both moderate alcohol consumption and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes exhibited significantly more advanced fibrosis. Paper II was a cohort study where 82 participants were followed over 17.2 years. Similarly, participants with moderate alcohol consumption displayed significant fibrosis progression. The strongest association was observed in participants with PEth-value of 48 ng/mL or higher, or those with binge drinking.  

In Paper III, the potential role of variant PNPLA3 was explored, exhibiting impaired autophagic flux and reduced lipophagy in variant PNPLA3 cells. Liver biopsies of NAFLD individuals with variant PNPLA3 displayed an accumulation of lipid droplets positive for both PNPLA3 and LC3 (a common marker of the autophagosome). This suggests that PNPLA3 is part of the lipophagy process, which is impaired in the variant gene and contributes to steatosis.  

Paper IV examined two independent NAFLD cohorts. In the discovery cohort, 60 participants with biopsy-proven NAFLD were included, while 59 participants were included in the validation cohort. The study evaluated 266 proteins and found that a biomarker model combining ACE2, HGF, and IGFBP-7 distinguished between different fibrosis stages (F0–1 and F2–4) in both cohorts.  

In summary, measuring phosphatidylethanol is advisable in NAFLD patient evaluations. Elevated PEth-levels (≥48 ng/mL) or alcohol consumption exceeding 66 grams per week should warrant advice to abstain from alcohol. PNPLA3 is implicated in NAFLD pathophysiology, potentially through impaired lipophagy. While its clinical application remains uncertain, genetic profiling for NAFLD risk assessment may become part of future non-invasive approaches. Additionally, proteomics holds promise for non-invasive NAFLD assessment, with the combination of ACE2, HGF, and IGFBP-7 identifying significant fibrosis in two separate cohorts. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2023. p. 82
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1866
National Category
Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-198651 (URN)10.3384/9789180752923 (DOI)9789180752916 (ISBN)9789180752923 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-11-24, Berzeliussalen, building 463, Campus US, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-10-23 Created: 2023-10-23 Last updated: 2023-10-23Bibliographically approved

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