Liver fat scores do not reflect interventional changes in liver fat content induced by high-protein diets
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is common in Metabolic Syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2DM), driven by energy imbalance, saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. NAFLD requires screening and monitoring for late complications. Liver fat indices may predict NAFLD avoiding expensive or invasive gold-standard methods, but they are poorly validated for use in interventional settings. Recent data indicate a particular insensitivity to weight-independent liver fat reduction. We evaluated 31 T2DM patients, completing a randomized intervention study on isocaloric high-protein diets. We assessed anthropometric measures, intrahepatic lipid (IHL) content and serum liver enzymes, allowing AUROC calculations as well as cross-sectional and longitudinal Spearman correlations between the fatty liver index, the NAFLD-liver fat score, the Hepatosteatosis Index, and IHL. At baseline, all indices predicted NAFLD with moderate accuracy (AUROC 0.731–0.770), supported by correlation analyses. Diet-induced IHL changes weakly correlated with changes of waist circumference, but no other index component or the indices themselves. Liver fat indices may help to easily detect NAFLD, allowing cost-effective allocation of further diagnostics to patients at high risk. IHL reduction by weight-independent diets is not reflected by a proportional change in liver fat scores. Further research on the development of treatment-sensitive indices is required. Trial registration: The trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02402985.
Published in: Scientific Reports, 10.1038/s41598-021-87360-2, Springer Nature