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PLoS One. 2017 Mar 28;12(3):e0174291. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174291. eCollection 2017.

Bidirectional association between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes in Chinese population: Evidence from the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort study.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and State Key Laboratory of Environmental Health for Incubating, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Dongfeng Central Hospital, Dongfeng Motor Corporation and Hubei University of Medicine, Shiyan, Hubei, China.
Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.



The aim of this study is to examine the bidirectional association between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


The data was derived from the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort study, which was established in 2008 and followed until October 2013. NAFLD was classified as none, mild, moderate/severe based on ultrasound examination. The analysis to examine the association between NAFLD and incident T2DM risk included 18,111 participants free of diabetes at baseline and the duration of follow-up was 4.60 ± 0.60 years. Cox proportional regression model was used to calculate the hazard ratio (HR) for the association. The analysis to investigate the association between T2DM and incident NAFLD risk included 12,435 participants free of NAFLD at baseline. Logistic regression model was used to calculate the odd ratio (OR) of NAFLD.


Compared with those without NAFLD, individuals with mild or moderate/severe NAFLD had a monotonic elevated risk of developing T2DM (HR: 1.88 [95% CI: 1.63-2.18] and 2.34 [1.85-2.96], respectively) after adjustment for potential confounders. In a parallel analysis, compared to participants with fasting plasma glucose < 6.1 mmol/L, the ORs of developing NAFLD in subjects with impaired fasting glucose and T2DM were 1.35 (95% CI: 1.16-1.57) and 1.40 (95% CI: 1.22-1.62), respectively.


Our results provide compelling evidence that the NAFLD-T2DM association is bidirectional in Chinese population.

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