Extended Fatty Liver Index More Accurately Predicts Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

New index more precisely determines the probability of reducing liver fat during lifestyle interventions.

A newly-generated index can accurately predict the presence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Approximately one-third of adults in industrialized countries have a morbidly fatty liver, which increases the risk of advanced liver diseases, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. In order to intervene with preventative and therapeutic measures, fatty liver needs to be detected early.

Although an ultrasound examination of the liver and the determination of liver values are adequate, in most cases, these techniques can only diagnose a fatty liver at its advanced stage. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy tests are more meaningful, but due to the high costs in clinical practice, they are not widely applicable.

There have been various indices developed, including the Fatty Liver Index (FLI), which consists of the parameters age, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels (TG) measured in the blood in a fasting state, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), according to the study.

Now, through a collaborative effort between investigators at the Department of Internal Medicine IV of Tübingen University Hospital and the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases, they have developed an improved FLI.

In addition to the FLI’s parameters, the investigators used the TG and glucose levels from an oral glucose tolerance test at 2 hours, as well as the gene variant for fatty liver disease (rs738409 C>G in PNPLA3).

Based on data from the Tübingen Lifestyle Intervention Program (TULIP) study, the investigators demonstrated how the new and extended fatty liver index more accurately diagnosed the disease compared with the known FLI. Furthermore, it could more precisely determine the probability of reducing liver fat content during a lifestyle intervention, according to the study.

“This index will be increasingly used in clinical practice to diagnose fatty liver disease at an early stage in order to prevent the consequences of fatty liver disease,” said investigator Norbert Stefan.