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Depression a potential risk factor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

01 Sep 2019

Depression is prevalent in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a recent study, suggesting that the psychiatric condition may be an independent risk factor for NAFLD.

The study included 10,484 individuals (mean age, 47.0 years; 48.8 percent male), among whom 1,162 had depression. Compared with those without the condition, individuals with depression were older (mean age 49.5 vs 47.0 years), more likely to be female (68.1 percent vs 49.2 percent), diabetic (17.6 percent vs 11.2 percent), hypertensive (41.0 percent vs 29.9 percent) and smoker (35.6 percent vs 16.8 percent). They also had a higher body mass index and waist circumference, and elevated levels of total cholesterol, triglyceride and fasting glucose.

The prevalence of depression and related functional impairment was higher in individuals with vs without NAFLD (p<0.001). Similarly, individuals with depression were more likely to have NAFLD compared with those who did not have the psychiatric condition.

Logistic regression analysis showed that depression as defined by antidepressant use was associated with increased risk of NAFLD as assessed using the following: Fatty Liver Index (FLI; odds ratio [OR] 2.01, 95 percent CI, 1.65–2.48), US FLI (OR, 1.48, 1.17–1.87) and HSI (OR, 1.51, 1.04–2.19). When diabetes, obesity and lipid profile were factored into the model, the risk estimates were attenuated but the significance persisted.

Depression was not associated with NAFLD‐related advanced fibrosis.

Despite the need for prospective data, the current findings indicate that appropriate screening and prompt treatment of depression may prevent the development or progression of NAFLD, according to researchers.

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