Obese boys with low concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol are at greater risk of hepatosteatosis
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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and associated morbidities have become a major public health problem, with a global three-fold increase in incidence among obese children over the last three decades. Although the gold standard for diagnosis of NAFLD is liver biopsy, it is not widely used in children. Imaging techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound (US), can provide information on liver fat deposition, however, with variable sensitivity. A number of other predictors are therefore being investigated for pediatric screening and diagnostic purposes. The aim of this study was to assess easily measured parameters to prompt further investigation into NAFLD in obese children.
Obese children/adolescents with a body mass index (BMI) percentile > 95 were enrolled in the study (n = 353). After a 12-hour fast, venous glucose, insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and uric acid were measured and a full blood count was performed in all subjects. TG/LDL ratio, AST/platelet ratio index (APRI score), and homeostatic model of assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were calculated. All patients underwent an abdominal US examination to assess hepatosteatosis.
Of 353 patients, median age 12.5 (range, 6–17.9) years, 210 patients (59%) had US-proven hepatosteatosis. Female gender reduced the risk of steatosis 2.08-fold (p = 0.005), a one-unit increase in HDL reduced the risk of steatosis 1.02-fold (p = 0.042), and a one-unit increase in BMI led to a 1.11-fold (p = 0.002) increase in the risk of steatosis.
Gender, BMI, and HDL were found to be predictors of steatosis. Male patients with low HDL and high BMI are at greater risk of steatosis and should be carefully examined for the presence of NAFLD.
KeywordsFatty liver Childhood High-density lipoprotein Hepatosteatosis Obesity
The authors would like to thank Mr. Jeremy Jones for his help in the writing and revision of this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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