Anthropometric and blood parameters for the prediction of NAFLD among overweight and obese adults

Tilman Kühn, Tobias Nonnenmacher, Disorn Sookthai, Ruth Schübel, Daniel Antonio Quintana Pacheco, Oyunbileg von Stackelberg, Mirja E Graf, Theron Johnson, Christopher L Schlett, Romy Kirsten, Cornelia M Ulrich, Rudolf Kaaks, Hans-Ulrich Kauczor, Johanna Nattenmüller

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BACKROUND: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) comprises non-progressive steatosis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the latter of which may cause cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). As NAFLD detection is imperative for the prevention of its complications, we evaluated whether a combination of blood-based biomarkers and anthropometric parameters can be used to predict NAFLD among overweight and obese adults.

METHODS: 143 overweight or obese non-smokers free of diabetes (50% women, age: 35-65 years) were recruited. Anthropometric indices and routine biomarkers of metabolism and liver function were measured to predict magnetic resonance (MR) - derived NAFLD by multivariable logistic regression models. In addition, we evaluated to which degree the use of more novel biomarkers (adiponectin, leptin, resistin, C-reactive protein, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8 and interferon-γ) could improve prediction models.

RESULTS: NAFLD was best predicted by a combination of age, sex, waist circumference, ALT, HbA1c, and HOMA-IR at an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of 0.87 (95% CI: 0.81, 0.93) before and 0.85 (95% CI: 0.78, 0.91) after internal bootstrap validation. The use of additional biomarkers of inflammation and metabolism did not improve NAFLD prediction. Previously published indices predicted NAFLD at AUROCs between 0.71 and 0.82.

CONCLUSIONS: The AUROC of > 0.8 obtained by our regression model suggests the feasibility of a non-invasive detection of NAFLD by anthropometry and circulating biomarkers, even though further increments in the capacity of prediction models may be needed before NAFLD indices can be applied in routine clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase/blood
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomarkers/blood
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A/analysis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/blood
  • Obesity/complications
  • Overweight/complications


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