New research suggests that estrogen protects women with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) from severe liver fibrosis. According to the study published online in Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, men are at higher risk of more severe fibrosis compared to women prior to menopause, but liver fibrosis severity is similar in men and post-menopausal women.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) includes a range of liver disorders from simple fatty liver to inflammation, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. With the rapid rise in obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the prevalence of NAFLD—the result of insulin resistance—has also steadily increased. In fact, studies suggest that the NAFLD prevalence is 10% to 30%, making it the most common liver disease in the U.S.
"While most NAFLD patients have a mild disease known as fatty liver or hepatic steatosis, some patients present with NASH, which is more severe and increases overall mortality," explains Dr. Ayako Suzuki with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, the lead author of the present study. "Our study aim was to investigate whether gender and menopause significantly impact fibrosis severity among adult patients with NAFLD."
The research team analyzed data from 541 adults with NASH who were seen at Duke University Liver Clinics and the Duke Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery Program. The mean age of subjects was 48 years, with 35% of the group being men, 28% pre-menopausal women and 37% post-menopausal women.
Findings indicate that 22% of the cohort had advanced fibrosis. After adjusting for known predictors of fibrosis, the risk for greater fibrosis severity in post-menopausal women and men vs. pre-menopausal women was 1.4-fold and 1.6-fold, respectively. Furthermore, when dividing the cohort at age 50, which is the average age at menopause in the US, the risk for greater fibrosis severity in men vs. women before age 50 was 1.8-fold, while after the age 50 the risk was reduced to 1.2-fold.
"Our findings suggest a protective effect from estrogen against development of severe fibrosis," concludes Dr. Suzuki. "Further study of the impact of estrogen on fibrosis progression in NASH patients is needed."
This study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (5RC2 AA019399), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) (U01-DK57149 and K23-DK062116).
What: The 64th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)
Founded in 1950, AASLD is the leading organization of scientists and healthcare professionals committed to preventing and curing liver disease. AASLD has grown into an international society responsible for all aspects of hepatology, and the annual meeting attracts 8,500 physicians, surgeons, researchers, and allied health professionals from around the world.
The Liver Meeting® is the premier meeting in the science and practice of hepatology, including the latest findings on new drugs, novel treatments, and the results from pilot and multicenter studies.
When: November 1-5, 2013
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Contact: To obtain a press pass for this event, please visit: https://www.xpressreg.net/register/asld113/media/reginfo.asp
This study is published in Hepatology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full citation: "Gender and Menopause Impact Severity of Fibrosis Among Patients with Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis." Ju Dong Yang, Manal F Abdelmalek, Herbert Pang, Cynthia D Guy, Alastair D Smith, Anna Mae Diehl and Ayako Suzuki. Hepatology; (DOI: 10.1002/hep.26761) Published online: October 1, 2013.
Author Contact: Media wishing to speak with Dr. Suzuki may contact Ben Boulden with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at email@example.com or at +1 501-686-8816.
About the Journal
Hepatology is the premier publication in the field of liver disease, publishing original, peer-reviewed articles concerning all aspects of liver structure, function and disease. Each month, the distinguished Editorial Board monitors and selects only the best articles on subjects such as immunology, chronic hepatitis, viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, genetic and metabolic liver diseases and their complications, liver cancer, and drug metabolism. Hepatology is published on is published by Wiley on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). For more information, please visit http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/hep.
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