SAFETY study: alanine aminotransferase cutoff values are set too high for reliable detection of pediatric chronic liver disease.
ABSTRACT: The appropriate alanine aminotransferase (ALT) threshold value to use for diagnosis of chronic liver disease in children is unknown. We sought to develop gender-specific, biology-based, pediatric ALT thresholds.The Screening ALT for Elevation in Today's Youth (SAFETY) study collected observational data from acute care children's hospitals, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 1999-2006), overweight children with and without non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and children with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. The study compared the sensitivity and specificity of ALT thresholds currently used by children's hospitals vs study-derived, gender-specific, biology-based, ALT thresholds for detecting children with NAFLD, HCV, or HBV.The median upper limit of ALT at children's hospitals was 53 U/L (range, 30-90 U/L). The 95th percentile levels for ALT in healthy weight, metabolically normal, liver disease-free, NHANES pediatric participants were 25.8 U/L (boys) and 22.1 U/L (girls). The concordance statistics of these NHANES-derived thresholds for liver disease detection were 0.85 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.74-0.96) in boys and 0.91 (95% CI: 0.83-0.99) in girls for NAFLD, 0.80 (95% CI: 0.70-0.91) in boys and 0.79 (95% CI: 0.69-0.89) in girls for HBV, and 0.86 (95% CI: 0.77-0.95) in boys and 0.84 (95% CI: 0.75-0.93) in girls for HCV. Using current children's hospitals ALT thresholds, the median sensitivity for detection of NAFLD, HBV, and HCV ranged from 32% to 48%; median specificity was 92% (boys) and 96% (girls). Using NHANES-derived thresholds, the sensitivities were 72% (boys) and 82% (girls); specificities were 79% (boys) and 85% (girls).The upper limit of ALT used in children's hospitals varies widely and is set too high to reliably detect chronic liver disease. Biology-based thresholds provide higher sensitivity and only slightly less specificity. Clinical guidelines for use of screening ALT and exclusion criteria for clinical trials should be modified.
Project description:Objective: We aimed to assess the role of adipose tissue distribution in cardiometabolic risk (in particular insulin sensitivity) in a population of children and adolescents with obesity. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, participants were 479 children and adolescents with obesity (322 boys and 157 girls) aged 3 to 18 years attending the Children's Hospital at Zhejiang University School of Medicine (Hangzhou, China). Clinical assessments included anthropometry, body composition (DXA scans), carotid artery ultrasounds, and OGTT. Insulin sensitivity was assessed using the Matsuda index. Participants were stratified into groups by sex and pubertal stage. Key predictors were DXA-derived android-to-gynoid-fat ratio (A/G) and total body fat percentage (TBF%). Results: Irrespective of sex and pubertal stage, there was a strong association between increasing A/G (i.e., greater abdominal adiposity) and lower insulin sensitivity. In multivariable models, every 0.1 increase in A/G was associated with a reduction in insulin sensitivity in prepubertal boys [?29% (95% CI ?36%, ?20%); p < 0.0001], pubertal boys [?13% (95% CI ?21%, ?6%); p = 0.001], and pubertal girls [?16% (95% CI ?24%, ?6%); p = 0.002]. In contrast, TBF% was not associated with insulin sensitivity when A/G was adjusted for, irrespective of pubertal stage or sex. In addition, every 0.1 increase in A/G was associated with increased likelihood of dyslipidemia in prepubertal boys [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.62 (95% CI 1.05, 2.49)], impaired glucose tolerance in pubertal boys [aOR 1.64 (95% CI 1.07, 2.51)] and pubertal girls [aOR 1.81 (95% CI 1.10, 2.98)], and odds of NAFLD in both prepubertal [aOR 2.57 (95% CI 1.56, 4.21)] and pubertal [aOR 1.69 (95% CI 1.18, 2.40)] boys. In contrast, higher TBF% was only associated with higher fasting insulin and ALT in pubertal boys, being also predictive of NAFLD in this group [aOR 1.15 per percentage point (95% CI 1.06, 1.26)], but was not associated with the likelihood of other cardiometabolic outcomes assessed in any group. Conclusions: A/G is a much stronger independent predictor of cardiometabolic risk factors in children and adolescents with obesity in China, particularly glucose metabolism.
Project description:To investigate the histological spectrum of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children with normal, mildly elevated (26-50 U/L boys, 23-44 U/L girls), or elevated (>50 U/L in boys, >44 U/L in girls) serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.The Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network enrolls children aged 5-18 years with NAFLD. We analyzed baseline clinical and histological data from 91 children with suspected NAFLD and normal or mildly elevated ALT and liver biopsy analysis within 180 days of ALT measurement, and compared them with data from 392 children with elevated ALT.Seventeen of the 91 children with suspected NAFLD (19%) had a normal ALT level, and 74 (81%) had a mildly elevated ALT level. Overall, 45% of the biopsy specimens analyzed had steatosis ?33%, 22% had grade ?2 lobular inflammation, 81% had portal inflammation, 29% had ballooned hepatocytes, 35% had "suspicious/borderline" steatohepatitis, 8% had definite nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, 34% had an NAFLD activity score ?4, and 46% had fibrosis (38% mild/moderate and 8% bridging/cirrhosis). Marked steatosis (50% vs 24%) and fibrosis (54% vs 12%) were significantly more common in the patients with mildly elevated ALT compared with those with normal ALT, with no difference in ballooning, inflammation, or NAFLD activity score ?4 between the 2 groups. Fibrosis stage 3/4 was seen in none of the children with normal ALT, in 9% of those with mildly elevated ALT, and in 15% of those with elevated ALT.Liver biopsy specimens from children with NAFLD with normal or mildly elevated ALT levels show significant histological abnormalities, including advanced fibrosis in children with mildly elevated ALT. Thus, measurement of ALT may underestimate liver injury in NAFLD. The use of appropriate ALT cutoff levels can help identify children at risk for more severe disease.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Associations of insulin resistance and hyperglycemia with a panel of liver enzymes have not been well studied in a young, heterogenous Hispanic/Latino population. We aimed to assess the associations of insulin resistance and glycemia with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as measured by liver enzymes and the pediatric NAFLD fibrosis index (PNFI), and whether these associations are modified by body mass index and mediated by inflammation or endothelial dysfunction.<h4>Materials and methods</h4>We conducted a cross-sectional study of 1317 boys and girls aged 8 to 16 years from the Hispanic Community Children's Health Study/Study of Latino Youth. We used Poisson regression to assess the associations of fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) with elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (>25?U/L in boys, >22?U/L in girls), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (?37?U/L), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) (?17?U/L), and PNFI (?9; a function of age, waist circumference, and triglyceride level).<h4>Results</h4>HOMA-IR was associated with elevated ALT, AST, GGT, and PNFI [prevalence ratios (95% confidence intervals) for each 1-unit increase in the natural log of HOMA-IR: 1.99 (1.40-2.81), 2.15 (1.12-4.12), 1.70 (1.26-2.30), and 1.98 (1.43-2.74), respectively]. Associations were observed in overweight/obese children, but not in normal weight children (P-interaction=0.04 for AST and P-interaction=0.07 for GGT). After further adjustment for adiponectin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, e-selectin, and PAI-1, associations of HOMA-IR with liver enzymes and PNFI were attenuated, but remained statistically significant for AST and PNFI.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Insulin resistance was associated with NAFLD in overweight/obese Hispanic/Latino youth, and this association may be partially mediated by inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.
Project description:Leukocyte telomere length is shorter in response to chronic disease processes associated with inflammation such as diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2002 was used to explore the relationship between leukocyte telomere length and presumed NAFLD, as indicated by elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, obesity, or abdominal obesity. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between telomere length and presumed markers of NAFLD adjusting for possible confounders. There was no relationship between elevated ALT levels, abdominal obesity, or obesity and telomere length in adjusted models in NHANES (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.48-2.65; OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.52-2.62, resp.). Mexican-American men had shorter telomere length in relation to presumed NAFLD (OR 0.07, 95% CI 0.006-0.79) and using different indicators of NAFLD (OR 0.012, 95% CI 0.0006-0.24). Mexican origin with presumed NAFLD had shorter telomere length than men in other population groups. Longitudinal studies are necessary to evaluate the role of telomere length as a potential predictor to assess pathogenesis of NALFD in Mexicans.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:The impact of marijuana on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is largely unknown. We studied the association between marijuana and NAFLD utilizing cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005-2014 and NHANES III (1988-1994). METHODS:Suspected NAFLD was diagnosed if serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) was > 30 IU/L for men and > 19 IU/L for women in the absence of other liver diseases (NHANES 2005-2014). In NHANES III cohort, NAFLD was defined based on ultrasonography. RESULTS:Of the 14,080 (NHANES 2005-2014) and 8,286 (NHANES III) participants, prevalence of suspected NAFLD and ultrasonographically-diagnosed NAFLD were inversely associated with marijuana use (p < 0.001). Compared to marijuana-naïve participants, marijuana users were less likely to have suspected NAFLD (odds ratio [OR]: 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.82-0.99 for past user; OR: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.58-0.80 for current user) and ultrasonographically-diagnosed NAFLD (OR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.57-0.98 for current user) in the age, gender, ethnicity-adjusted model. On multivariate analysis, the ORs for suspected NAFLD comparing current light or heavy users to non-users were 0.76 (95% CI 0.58-0.98) and 0.70 (95% CI 0.56-0.89), respectively (P for trend = 0.001) with similar trends in ultrasonographically-diagnosed NAFLD (OR: 0.77, 95% CI: 0.59-1.00 for current user; OR: 0.71, 95% CI: 0.51-0.97 for current light user). In insulin resistance-adjusted model, marijuana use remained an independent predictor of lower risk of suspected NAFLD. CONCLUSIONS:In this nationally representative sample, active marijuana use provided a protective effect against NAFLD independent of known metabolic risk factors. The pathophysiology is unclear and warrants further investigation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has increased as the obese pediatric population has increased. NAFLD causes progressive liver injury and the only effective treatment is lifestyle modifications. However, few studies have examined the dietary risk factors for pediatric NAFLD or liver fibrosis. Here, we evaluated the dietary factors associated with suspected NAFLD and potential liver fibrosis in Korean children. METHODS:Data collected from 1674 children and adolescents aged 10-18?years during the 2014-2017 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys analyzed. The 24-h recall method measured the food consumed 1?day before the survey. The "suspected NAFLD" group included excessive body mass index (BMI) subjects ? 85th percentile) with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels exceeding the upper normal limit (24.1?U/L for boys and 17.7?U/L for girls); the "healthy control" group included subjects with a BMI and ALT level below these thresholds. Sodium intake was assessed by the urinary sodium-to-urinary specific gravity unit ratio (U-Na-to-SGU ratio). A pediatric NAFLD index (PNFI) higher than 3 indicated potential liver fibrosis. RESULTS:The overall prevalence of suspected NAFLD and potential liver fibrosis was 8.2 and 4.5%, respectively. The suspected NAFLD group had a larger proportion of males and subject with a greater height, BMI standard deviation score (BMI-SDS), systolic and diastolic blood pressure SDS, waist circumference, hemoglobin A1c, and levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and ALT than the control group. The suspected NAFLD group presented significantly higher U-Na-to-SGU ratios and cholesterol intake. The PNFI > 3 subgroup included a significantly larger proportion of males and subjects with higher BMI-SDS, AST and ALT values, and intake of water, carbohydrate, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B2. After adjusting for confounders, male, BMI-SDS, AST, and protein and carbohydrate intake were independent risk factors for potential liver fibrosis. Niacin intake was an independent protective factor for potential liver fibrosis. CONCLUSIONS:Children with suspected NAFLD had higher urinary sodium level and cholesterol intake than healthy controls. Protein and carbohydrate intake were independent risk factors for potential liver fibrosis; niacin was an independent protective factor.
Project description:To develop a screening algorithm to detect hepatic steatosis in overweight and obese adolescents.We performed a cross sectional study of 129 overweight adolescents 13-18 yrs. The primary outcome, hepatic steatosis was defined as an intracellular triglyceride content > 5.5 mg/g and quantified using (1)H-magenetic resonance spectroscopy. Primary predictor variables included, alanine and aspartate transaminases (ALT/AST) and features of the metabolic syndrome.Hepatic steatosis was present in 33% of overweight and obese adolescents. Adolescents with hepatic steatosis were more likely to be boys (adjusted OR: 4.8; 95% CI: 2.5-10.5), display a higher waist circumference (111 ± 12 vs 100 ± 13 cm, p < 0.001) and have metabolic syndrome (adjusted OR: 5.1; 95% CI: 1.6-16.4). Serum ALT predicted hepatic steatosis in boys (AUC: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.70-0.95; p < 0.001) but not girls (AUC = 0.63; 95% CI: 0.46-0.75, p = 0.16). An ALT >20 U/L, combined with the presence of metabolic syndrome, male gender and an elevated waist circumference provided the best model (AUC 0.85) with high sensitivity (72%) and specificity (82%) and positive and negative predictive values of 61% and 89% respectively.Serum transaminases provide modest predictive value for hepatic steatosis in youth. The ALT threshold for predicting hepatic steatosis is significantly lower than current clinical thresholds for predicting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The addition of ALT, presence of the metabolic syndrome and male gender significant improve the ability to predict hepatic steatosis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been reported to have a negative effect on bone mineral density (BMD) in Asian populations. Whether such an association exists in Western populations is less clear. METHODS:This cross-sectional analysis of data from NHANES III, a United States national health survey conducted from 1988 to 1994, included 6089 participants aged 40-75 years, selected after excluding people with hepatitis virus serology, elevated alcohol consumption, decreased renal function, or steroid use, and pregnant females. The main outcome, BMD at the femoral neck, was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The primary exposure, NAFLD, was defined as moderate or severe hepatic steatosis diagnosed using abdominal ultrasonography. RESULT:After controlling for gender and menopausal status, race/ethnicity, age and body mass index, NAFLD was not significantly associated with BMD (beta coefficient: -0.006, 95%CI: -0.016, 0.003). A secondary analysis categorized participants with NAFLD according to their serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels into high and normal ALT NAFLD groups, and compared these with the non-NAFLD group. NAFLD with higher levels of ALT was associated with lower levels of BMD (beta coefficient: -0.023, 95% CI: -0.044, -0.002). CONCLUSION:This study showed a relationship between NAFLD with high ALT and lower BMD in the general U.S. population.
Project description:Background:Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity was measured not only to detect liver disease, but also to monitor overall health. The purpose of this study was to obtain the prevalence of elevated ALT levels among adolescents. Methods:In a school-based cross-sectional study, a representative sample was analyzed from 9 middle and high schools in Shenzhen, China, during 2017 to 2018. Elevated ALT was defined as diagnostic criterion I (>30?U/L for boys and >19?U/L for girls) and diagnostic criterion II (>40?U/L). Results:From the adolescent population, a total of 7281 students (boys, 4014, and girls, 3267) aged from 10 to 17 years were collected. The prevalence of elevated ALT was 7.11% (6.88% for boys and 7.41% for girls) by criterion I and 2.72% (3.96% for boys and 1.19% for girls) by criterion II. Based on the Shenzhen census and Chinese national census population, the adjusted prevalence of elevated ALT was 7.65% (boys 7.19% and girls 8.21%) and 6.79% (boys 6.07% and girls 7.56%) by criterion I and 2.85% (boys 4.20% and girls 1.16%) and 2.43% (boys 3.49% and girls 1.29%) by criterion II. For age, the overall trends were increasing progressively, regardless of the use of diagnostic criteria for an elevated ALT activity. Conclusions:This study supplements the gap that the prevalence of elevated ALT levels differed in gender, age, and criteria among adolescents of Shenzhen. We should take the prevalence as a predictor and continue to play a warning and preventive role in preparation for further intervention.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Body mass index (BMI) overweight/obesity thresholds in South Asian (SA) adults, at equivalent type-2 diabetes risk are lower than for white Europeans (WE). We aimed to define adjusted overweight/obesity thresholds for UK-SA children based on equivalent insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) to WE children. METHODS:In 1138 WE and 1292 SA children aged 9.0-10.9 years, multi-level regression models quantified associations between BMI and HOMA-IR by ethnic group. HOMA-IR levels for WE children were calculated at established overweight/obesity thresholds (at 9.5 years and 10.5 years), based on UK90 BMI cut-offs. Quantified associations in SA children were then used to estimate adjusted SA weight-status thresholds at the calculated HOMA-IR levels. RESULTS:At 9.5 years, current WE BMI overweight and obesity thresholds were 19.2?kg/m2, 21.3?kg/m2 (boys) and 20.0?kg/m2, 22.5?kg/m2 (girls). At equivalent HOMA-IR, SA overweight and obesity thresholds were lower by 2.9?kg/m2 (95% CI: 2.5-3.3?kg/m2) and 3.2?kg/m2 (95% CI: 2.7-3.6?kg/m2) in boys and 3.0?kg/m2 (95% CI: 2.6-3.4?kg/m2) and 3.3?kg/m2 (95% CI: 2.8-3.8?kg/m2) in girls, respectively. At these lower thresholds, overweight/obesity prevalences in SA children were approximately doubled (boys: 61%, girls: 56%). Patterns at 10.5 years were similar. CONCLUSIONS:SA adjusted overweight/obesity thresholds based on equivalent IR were markedly lower than BMI thresholds for WE children, and defined more than half of SA children as overweight/obese.