Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Fatty Liver Disease?


Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a higher risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a recently-published study concluded.

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a higher risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a recently-published study concluded.1

The study, led by Bincy Abraham, MD, at Houston Methodist Hospital, separated participants into 3 groups including: patients with both IBD and NAFLD, patients with IBD, and patients with NAFLD.

A total of 168 patients aged between 19-82 years old were evaluated, with 56 patients in each group. The researchers collected data on demographics, body mass index, duration of IBD, type of medication use, laboratory data, and metabolic risk factors.

The researchers noted that the overall prevalence of NAFLD in patients with IBD was more than 13%. Patients with IBD and NAFLD were also significantly older than patients with IBD only, had a significantly longer duration of IBD, and had an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. The results determined that IBD patients diagnosed at an older age, those with metabolic syndrome risk factors, and those with longer duration of the disease regardless of age at diagnosis, were more likely to develop NAFLD.

Patients with a combined IBD/NAFLD diagnosis also had fewer metabolic risk factors than patients with NAFLD alone.

“Our findings suggest that just having inflammatory bowel disease doesn’t prevent you from getting fatty liver disease,” Abraham said in a press release about the study.2 “We need to study a broader patient population to not only validate these findings but also determine other factors, such as inflammatory cytokines, that may contribute to the development of fatty liver in the IBD population.”

The study was published in IBD Journal.


  • Glassner K, Malaty HM, Abraham BP. Epidemiology and risk factors of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. April 3, 2017. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000001085
  • Research focused on ties between inflammatory bowel disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease [news release]. Houston Methodist’s website. Accessed April 6, 2017.

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