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Non-invasive screening of diabetics in primary care for NAFLD and advanced fibrosis by MRI and MRE.

  • Author(s): Doycheva, I;
  • Cui, J;
  • Nguyen, P;
  • Costa, EA;
  • Hooker, J;
  • Hofflich, H;
  • Bettencourt, R;
  • Brouha, S;
  • Sirlin, CB;
  • Loomba, R
  • et al.

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Current guidelines do not recommend screening for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or advanced fibrosis. Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are known to be at increased risk for NAFLD and advanced fibrosis.


To assess the feasibility in diabetics in a primary care setting of screening for NAFLD and advanced fibrosis, by using non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to estimate the hepatic proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF) and magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) to estimate hepatic stiffness.


We performed a cross-sectional analysis of a prospective study that included 100 (53% men) consecutively enrolled diabetics who did not have any other aetiology of liver disease. All patients underwent a standardised research visit, laboratory tests, MRI-PDFF, and MRE.


Mean (±s.d.) age and body mass index (BMI) was 59.7 (±11.2) years and 30.8 (±6.5) kg/m(2) , respectively. The prevalence of NAFLD (defined as MRI-PDFF ≥5%) and advanced fibrosis (defined as MRE ≥3.6 kPa) was 65% and 7.1%, respectively. One patient with advanced fibrosis had definite hepatocellular carcinoma. When compared to those without NAFLD, patients with NAFLD were younger (P = 0.028) and had higher mean BMI (P = 0.0008), waist circumference (P < 0.0001) and prevalence of metabolic syndrome (84.6% vs. 40.0%, P < 0.0001). Only 26% of those with NAFLD had elevated alanine aminotransferase.


This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that T2DM has significant rates of both NAFLD and advanced fibrosis. Concomitant screening for NAFLD and advanced fibrosis by using MRI-proton density fat fraction and magnetic resonance elastography in T2DM is feasible and may be considered after validation in a larger cohort.

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