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J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):313-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.150540. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Long-term dietary potential renal acid load during adolescence is prospectively associated with indices of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in young women.

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Department of Nutrition and Health, Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University Bonn, Dortmund, Germany.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), frequently already present in young subjects, has been linked to reduced growth hormone levels and signaling. Similar hormonal changes occur during metabolic acidosis (MA), which may thus contribute to an increased NAFLD risk. Because subclinical MA can be diet induced, we aimed to examine whether a higher diet-dependent acid load during adolescence is prospectively associated with several currently used NAFLD surrogates in young adulthood. Dietary acidity during adolescence (boys:10-15 y, girls: 9-14 y) was calculated as potential renal acid load (PRAL) from at least three 3-d weighed dietary records according to a published algorithm considering dietary protein and minerals in 145 healthy participants. Routine measurements derived from blood analysis and anthropometric data in participants' young adulthood (18-25 y) were used to determine the NAFLD surrogates alanine-aminotransferase (ALT), hepatic steatosis index (HSI), and fatty liver index (FLI). Sex-stratified linear regression models, adjusted for dietary fiber, saturated fat, protein, and adolescent BMI SD scores, were run with PRAL as the independent variable. Dietary PRAL during puberty was positively associated with ALT (P = 0.02), HSI (P = 0.002), and FLI (P = 0.005) in adult females but not males. Females with an adolescent dietary acid load in the highest tertile had 3.5, 4.4, and 4.5 higher values of ALT, HSI, and FLI as adults, respectively, compared to females with the lowest PRAL. The present findings suggest that higher dietary acidity in adolescence may be prospectively associated with hepatic lipid accumulation in females. Whether this relationship is due to the higher proton load or rather represents an unhealthy dietary pattern requires further investigation.

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