Epicardial Adipose Tissue (EAT) thickness is associated with cardiovascular and liver damage in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
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Background and Aims Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) has been proposed as a cardiometabolic and hepatic fibrosis risk factor in patients with non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Aim of this study was to evaluate the role of EAT in NAFLD by analyzing 1) the association between EAT, the other metabolic parameters and the severity of steatosis 2) the relationship between cardiovascular (cIMT, cplaques, E/A), liver (presence of NASH and significant fibrosis) damage and metabolic risk factors including EAT 3) the relationship between EAT and genetic factors strongly influencing liver steatosis. Methods In a cross-sectional study, we considered 512 consecutive patients with NAFLD (confirmed by biopsy in 100). EAT, severity of steatosis, carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) and plaques were evaluated by ultrasonography and results analysed by multiple linear and logistic regression models. Variables independently associated with EAT (mm)were female gender (p = 0.003), age (p = 0.001), BMI (p = 0.01), diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.009), steatosis grade 2 (p = 0.01) and 3 (p = 0.04), fatty liver index (p = 0.001) and statin use (p = 0.03). Variables independently associated with carotid IMT were age (p = 0.0001), hypertension (p = 0.009), diabetes (p = 0.04), smoking habits (p = 0.04) and fatty liver index (p = 0.02), with carotid plaques age (p = 0.0001), BMI (p = 0.03), EAT (p = 0.02),) and hypertension (p = 0.02), and with E/A age (p = 0.0001), diabetes (p = 0.005), hypertension (p = 0.04) and fatty liver index (p = 0.004). In the 100 patients with available liver histology non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) was independently associated with EAT (p = 0.04) and diabetes (p = 0.054) while significant fibrosis with EAT (p = 0.02), diabetes (p = 0.01) and waist circumference (p = 0.05). No association between EAT and PNPLA3 and TM6SF2 polymorphisms was found. Conclusion In patients with NAFLD, EAT is associated with the severity of liver and vascular damage besides with the known metabolic risk factors.
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