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Sarcopenic obesity is regarded as a risk factor for the progression and development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Since male sex is a risk factor for NAFLD and skeletal muscle mass markedly varies between the sexes, we examined whether sex influences the association between appendicular skeletal muscle mass to visceral fat area ratio (SVR), that is, an index of skeletal muscle mass combined with abdominal obesity, and the histological severity of NAFLD. The SVR was measured by bioelectrical impedance in a cohort of 613 (M/F = 443/170) Chinese middle-aged individuals with biopsy-proven NAFLD. Multivariable logistic regression and subgroup analyses were used to test the association between SVR and the severity of NAFLD (i.e. non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or NASH with the presence of any stage of liver fibrosis). NASH was identified by a NAFLD activity score ≥5, with a minimum score of 1 for each of its categories. The presence of fibrosis was classified as having a histological stage ≥1. The SVR was inversely associated with NASH in men (adjusted OR 0·62; 95 % CI 0·42, 0·92, P = 0·017 for NASH, adjusted OR 0·65; 95 % CI 0·43, 0·99, P = 0·043 for NASH with the presence of fibrosis), but not in women (1·47 (95 % CI 0·76, 2·83), P = 0·25 for NASH, and 1·45 (95 % CI 0·74, 2·83), P = 0·28 for NASH with the presence of fibrosis). There was a significant interaction for sex and SVR (Pinteraction = 0·017 for NASH and Pinteraction = 0·033 for NASH with the presence of fibrosis). Our findings show that lower skeletal muscle mass combined with abdominal obesity is strongly associated with the presence of NASH only in men.
The FNDC5 gene encodes the fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 that is a membrane protein mainly expressed in skeletal muscle, and the FNDC5 rs3480 polymorphism may be associated with liver disease severity in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We investigated the influence of the FNDC5 rs3480 polymorphism on the relationship between sarcopenia and the histological severity of NAFLD. A total of 370 adult individuals with biopsy-proven NAFLD were studied. The association between the key exposure sarcopenia and the outcome liver histological severity was investigated by binary logistic regression. Stratified analyses were undertaken to examine the impact of FNDC5 rs3480 polymorphism on the association between sarcopenia and the severity of NAFLD histology. Patients with sarcopenia had more severe histological grades of steatosis and a higher prevalence of significant fibrosis and definite non-alcoholic steatohepatitis than those without sarcopenia. There was a significant association between sarcopenia and significant fibrosis (adjusted OR 2·79, 95 % CI 1·31, 5·95, P = 0·008), independent of established risk factors and potential confounders. Among patients with sarcopenia, significant fibrosis occurred more frequently in the rs3480 AA genotype carriers than in those carrying the FNDC5 rs3480 G genotype (43·8 v. 17·2 %, P = 0·031). In the association between sarcopenia and liver fibrosis, there was a significant interaction between the FNDC5 genotype and sarcopenia status (P value for interaction = 0·006). Sarcopenia is independently associated with significant liver fibrosis, and the FNDC5 rs3480 G variant influences the association between sarcopenia and liver fibrosis in patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD.
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