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Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;18(6):353-8.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver: another feature of the metabolic syndrome?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University Hospital of Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal.



Hepatic steatosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) have been associated with obesity, non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia. The present study was designed in order to evaluate whether patients with steatosis/NASH presented common features with the metabolic syndrome.


In 30 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes; the glucose/insulin profile, lipid profile, and serum leptin were evaluated and correlated with body composition and energy expenditure, assessed by bioimpedance spectroscopy and indirect calorimetry, respectively. Results were compared with a group of eight controls.


Obesity was present in 80% of patients, hypertension in 50% and non insulin dependent diabetes in 33%. Glucose metabolism was altered in 69%, with elevated insulin in 14 patients. Serum leptin, higher in women, was increased in patients: 33.9 +/- 38.9 vs 9.6 +/- 6.9 ng/ml, P< 0.05. There was a correlation between insulin and leptin, both of which correlated with body mass index, fat mass and percentage of body fat. Dyslipidaemia was found in 80% of patients: 45% presented low high density lipoproteins cholesterol, 58% high low density lipoproteins and 38% elevated very low density lipoproteins.


There is a strong association between nonalcoholic fatty liver and features of the metabolic syndrome, suggesting a simultaneous insulin resistance and decreased sensitivity to leptin.

Copyright 1999 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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