AIMS: To determine whether alanine aminotransferase or gamma-glutamyltransferase levels, as markers of liver health and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, might predict cardiovascular events in people with Type 2 diabetes.
METHODS: Data from the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes study were analysed to examine the relationship between liver enzymes and incident cardiovascular events (non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke, coronary and other cardiovascular death, coronary or carotid revascularization) over 5 years.
RESULTS: Alanine aminotransferase level had a linear inverse relationship with the first cardiovascular event occurring in participants during the study period. After adjustment, for every 1 sd higher baseline alanine aminotransferase value (13.2 U/l), the risk of a cardiovascular event was 7% lower (95% CI 4-13; P=0.02). Participants with alanine aminotransferase levels below and above the reference range 8-41 U/l for women and 9-59 U/l for men, had hazard ratios for a cardiovascular event of 1.86 (95% CI 1.12-3.09) and 0.65 (95% CI 0.49-0.87), respectively (P=0.001). No relationship was found for gamma-glutamyltransferase.
CONCLUSIONS: The data may indicate that in people with Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with higher alanine aminotransferase levels because of prevalent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a low alanine aminotransferase level is a marker of hepatic or systemic frailty rather than health.