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News

Serum alanine transaminase underestimates fatty liver disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is closely related to the metabolic syndrome, and the use of serum alanine transaminase as a marker underestimates its prevalence, shows the latest issue of Liver International.

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Only a few studies have assessed the epidemiology of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Dr Shira Zelber-Sagi and colleagues from Israel evaluated the prevalence of primary non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a population-based study.

The research team determined independent risk factors of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a subsample of 352 individuals of the Israeli national health survey.

Individuals with a known etiology for secondary non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were excluded.

Each participant underwent an abdominal ultrasound, biochemical tests and an anthropometric evaluation.

The prevalence of primary non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was 30%
Liver International

The team reported that 326 subjects, of which 53% were male with a mean age of 50 years, met the inclusion criteria.

The prevalence of primary non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was 30%.

The researchers found that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was more prevalent in men than women.

Compared with ultrasonography, the sensitivity of serum alanine transaminase for the diagnosis of primary non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was 8%.

The team noted that risk factors independently associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease included male gender, and abdominal obesity.

Homeostasis model assessment, hyperinsulinemia, and hypertriglyceridemia were also associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Dr Zelber-Sagi's team concludes, “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is prevalent in the general Israeli population and closely related to the metabolic syndrome.”

“The use of serum alanine transaminase as a marker for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease seriously underestimates its prevalence.”

Liver Int 2006: 26(7): 856-63
28 August 2006

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