Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Gastroenterol. 2008 Dec;103(12):3029-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2008.02188.x. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

Hepatic steatosis and subclinical cardiovascular disease in a cohort enriched for type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes Heart Study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.



To explore mechanisms whereby hepatic steatosis may be associated with cardiovascular risk, we investigated cross-sectional relationships between hepatic steatosis, regional fat accumulation, inflammatory biomarkers, and subclinical measures of atherosclerosis in the Diabetes Heart Study.


The Diabetes Heart Study is a family study of sibling pairs concordant for type 2 diabetes. A subset of 623 randomly selected participants was evaluated for hepatic steatosis, defined as a liver:spleen attenuation ratio of <1.0 by computed tomography. We quantified visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, coronary, aortic, and carotid artery calcium by computed tomography; and carotid atherosclerosis by ultrasound. Associations between the liver:spleen attenuation ratio and these factors were expressed as Spearman correlations.


After adjustment for age, race, gender, body mass index, and diabetes status, the liver:spleen attenuation ratio correlated with visceral fat (r =-0.22, P < 0.0001) and subcutaneous fat (r =-0.13, P= 0.031). Hepatic steatosis was associated with lower high-density lipoprotein (r = 0.21, P < 0.0001), higher triglycerides (r =-0.25, P < 0.0001), higher C-reactive protein (r =-0.095, P= 0.004), and lower serum adiponectin (r = 0.34, P < 0.0001). There were no significant associations between the liver:spleen attenuation ratio and coronary, aortic, or carotid calcium, or carotid intimal thickness.


This suggests that hepatic steatosis is less likely a direct mediator of cardiovascular disease and may best be described as an epiphenomenon. The strong correlations between pro-atherogenic biomarkers, visceral fat, and elements of the metabolic syndrome suggest that hepatic steatosis reflects more than general adiposity, but represents a systemic, inflammatory, pro-atherogenic adipose state.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk