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Liver Stiffness on Magnetic Resonance Elastography and the MEFIB Index and Liver-Related Outcomes in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Individual Participants

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Background & aims

Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an accurate biomarker of liver fibrosis; however, limited data characterize its association with clinical outcomes. We conducted an individual participant data pooled meta-analysis on patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease to evaluate the association between liver stiffness on MRE and liver-related outcomes.


A systematic search identified 6 cohorts of adults with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who underwent a baseline MRE and were followed for hepatic decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma, and death. Cox and logistic regression were used to assess the association between liver stiffness on MRE and liver-related outcomes, including a composite primary outcome defined as varices needing treatment, ascites, and hepatic encephalopathy.


This individual participant data pooled meta-analysis included 2018 patients (53% women) with a mean (± standard deviation) age of 57.8 (±14) years and MRE at baseline of 4.15 (±2.19) kPa, respectively. Among 1707 patients with available longitudinal data with a median (interquartile range) of 3 (4.2) years of follow-up, the hazard ratio for the primary outcome for MRE of 5 to 8 kPa was 11.0 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.03-17.1, P < .001) and for ≥ 8 kPa was 15.9 (95% CI: 9.32-27.2, P < .001), compared with those with MRE <5 kPa. The MEFIB index (defined as positive when MRE ≥3.3 kPa and Fibrosis-4 ≥1.6) had a robust association with the primary outcome with a hazard ratio of 20.6 (95% CI: 10.4-40.8, P < .001) and a negative MEFIB had a high negative predictive value for the primary outcome, 99.1% at 5 years. The 3-year risk of incident hepatocellular carcinoma was 0.35% for MRE <5 kPa, 5.25% for 5 to 8 kPa, and 5.66% for MRE ≥8 kPa, respectively.


Liver stiffness assessed by MRE is associated with liver-related events, and the combination of MRE and Fibrosis-4 has excellent negative predictive value for hepatic decompensation. These data have important implications for clinical practice.

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