Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Development
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is often examined as a complication of type 2 diabetes; prior research has examined the effects of type 2 diabetes on the development of NAFLD. However, in a study, a team of researchers in Seoul, Korea set out to understand how NAFLD might instead serve as a predictor for type 2 diabetes.
The study, “The clinical availability of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as an early predictor of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Korean men: 5-years' prospective cohort study,” was published online ahead of print in December 2012. It appears in the journal Hepatology.
The study was conducted by researchers Kangbuk Samsung Hospital’s Total Healthcare Center in Seoul. The study authors explored the effects of NAFLD on type 2 diabetes mellitus development by examining data on 25,232 men in Korea. At baseline, none of the men had type 2 diabetes.
The participants were examined for 5 years. The researchers examined the men for metabolic factors over the course of the study, including their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels and their fasting glucose levels. The goal of this examination was to understand the development of type 2 diabetes in some of the men, and to determine whether there existed an association between this development and NAFLD. NAFLD was defined as being normal, mild, or moderate-to-severe in each of the study participants.
The results of the study showed that the incidence of type 2 diabetes increased in the participants as the severity of NAFLD increased. These results held even after the researchers controlled for other factors that might contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers conclude that their study results suggest that the development of type 2 diabetes is associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and that NAFLD is an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes.