Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a frequent complication of morbid obesity, but its severity varies greatly and thus there is a strong need to better define its natural history in these patients.
Dr Pierre Bedossa and colleagues from France systematically performed liver biopsies in 798 consecutive patients with severe obesity undergoing bariatric surgery.
Histology was compared with clinical, biological, anthropometrical and body composition characteristics.
The researchers found that patients with presumably normal liver were significantly younger at bariatric surgery than patients with NAFLD.
|The trunk/limb fat mass ratio increased according to liver disease severity|
However, both groups showed quite similar obesity duration, since patients with presumably normal liver reported the onset of obesity at a significantly younger age than those with NAFLD.
The trunk/limb fat mass ratio increased according to liver disease severity, although the total body fat mass decreased.
The research team noted that the volume of subcutaneous adipocytes increased according to severity of liver disease but only in female patients.
Dr Bedossa's team concludes, "These results suggest that young adults are more prone to store fat in subcutaneous tissue and reach the threshold of bariatric surgery indication before their liver is damaged."
"A shift of fat storage from subcutaneous to visceral adipose tissue compartment is associated with liver damages."
"Liver might also be targeted by subcutaneous hypertrophic adipocytes in females since hypertrophic adipocytes are more exposed to lipolysis and to the production of inflammatory mediators."