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J Hepatol. 2012 Jul;57(1):150-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.02.027. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease across the spectrum of hypothyroidism.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Healthcare Research Institute, Healthcare System Gangnam Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.



The aim of this study was to characterize the relationship between the broad spectrum of hypothyroidism and NAFLD.


A cross-sectional study with 4648 health check-up subjects (2324 cases with hypothyroidism vs. age- and sex-matched controls) was conducted. The subjects were categorized as having either subclinical [thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) ≥4.1 mIU/L and normal free thyroixine (T(4)) level (0.7-1.8 ng/dl)] or overt hypothyroidism [free T(4)<0.7 ng/dl]. NAFLD was diagnosed on the basis of typical ultrasonographic findings, and alcohol consumption of less than 20 g/day in the absence of other causes of liver disease.


The mean age of the subjects was 48.6±11.8 years and 62.4% were female. NAFLD was significantly associated with hypothyroidism (30.2% patients vs. 19.5% control, p<0.001). The prevalence of NAFLD and abnormal liver enzyme levels (ALT>33/25 IU/L) increased steadily with increasing grades of hypothyroidism (for NAFLD, subclinical: 29.9% and overt: 36.3%; for abnormal ALT, 20.1% and 25.9%, p<0.001, respectively). Multivariate regression analysis showed that NAFLD was statistically significantly associated with hypothyroidism (odds ratio (OR) 1.38, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.17-1.62) and the grade of hypothyroidism in a dose-dependent manner (OR 1.36, 95% CI, 1.16-1.61 in subclinical hypothyroidism and OR 1.71, 95% CI, 1.10-2.66 in overt hypothyroidism).


Subclinical hypothyroidism, even in the range of upper normal TSH levels, was found to be related to NAFLD in a dose-dependent manner. Hypothyroidism is closely associated with NAFLD independently of known metabolic risk factors, confirming a relevant clinical relationship between these two diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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