Influence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease With Increased Liver Enzyme Levels on the Risk of Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Yu Han Huang, Chi Chan, Hye Won Lee, Claire Huang, Yen Ju Chen, Po Chun Liu, Sheng Nan Lu, Wan Long Chuang, Jee Fu Huang, Ming Lung Yu, Jill Koshiol, Mei Hsuan Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: The influence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) on the long-term risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Asian populations has not been widely investigated. Methods: We enrolled 129,374 adults aged 30 years and older, all of whom participated in a health screening program from 2008 through 2013, were seronegative for hepatitis B surface antigen and anti–hepatitis C virus antibodies, and had limited daily alcohol consumption (<20 g/d for men and <10 g/d for women). Abdominal ultrasonography was performed to determine the presence of NAFLD. The participants were divided into the following groups: NAFLD with increased or normal liver enzyme levels, and non-NAFLD with normal liver enzyme levels. The incidences of cirrhosis and HCC were determined through computerized data linkage with nationwide registries. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate the hazard ratios of NAFLD on the risks of cirrhosis and HCC. Results: The incidence rates of cirrhosis and HCC increased as follows: non-NAFLD with normal liver enzyme levels (n = 66,801; 51%), NAFLD with normal liver enzyme levels (n = 41,461; 32%), and NAFLD with increased liver enzyme levels (n = 21,112; 16%). In the NAFLD group with increased liver enzyme levels and the NAFLD group with normal liver enzyme levels, the corresponding multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios for cirrhosis were 3.51 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.36–5.22) and 0.73 (95% CI: 0.46–1.16), and for HCC were 1.91 (95% CI: 1.08–3.38) and 0.57 (95% CI: 0.31–1.04), respectively, compared with the non-NAFLD group (P for trend < .001). The findings were consistent after restricting the analysis to nonobese individuals (body mass index, <25 kg/m2) and nonobese individuals without diabetes (P < .05). Conclusions: Individuals with NAFLD and increased liver enzyme levels showed significantly higher risks for cirrhosis and HCC and should be monitored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-969.e1
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 04 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 AGA Institute


  • Long-Term Risk
  • Metabolic Disease
  • Nonobese
  • Prospective Study


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