Conference Coverage

Poor NAFLD outcomes with increased VCTE-measured liver stiffness



An increase in liver stiffness measurement (LSM) by vibration-controlled transient elastography (VCTE) may be predictive of poor clinical outcomes in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to new findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Although previous retrospective studies have suggested that increased liver stiffness, as measured by VCTE (FibroScan), is associated with increases in liver-related events, there is a paucity of prospective data, reported Samer Gawrieh, MD, from Indiana University, Carmel and Indianapolis. VCTE is a noninvasive measure of cirrhosis progression.

In their prospective cohort study of patients representing the entire spectrum of NAFLD, the progression to LSM-defined cirrhosis was independently associated with the risk for a composite clinical outcome of death, decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma, or a Model for End Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score of greater than 15, he said.

Their findings show that “progression to LSM-defined cirrhosis by VCTE is strongly associated with poor clinical outcomes,” Dr. Gawrieh said.

Study findings

Investigators looked at prospective data on 894 patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD in the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Clinical Research Network database. The sample included patients with a minimum of two LSM readings taken from 2014 through 2022.

They defined LSM-defined cirrhosis as reaching LSM of greater than 14.9 kPa (90% specificity cutoff) among patients without cirrhosis on the baseline VCTE (a 90% sensitivity cutoff of LSM less than 12.1 kPa).

They also performed a histology-based subanalysis, including data only from those patients who had LSM within 6 months of a liver biopsy.

The median patient age was 60 years, 37% were male, and 80.9% were White and 11.5% were Hispanic/Latino. The median body mass index (BMI) was 32.

Out of all the patients, 119 (13.3%) had progression to LSM-defined cirrhosis.

At a median follow-up of 3.69 years for the 775 patients without LSM progression, 79 (10.2%) had one or more of the events in the composite clinical outcome.

In contrast, after a median 5.48 years of follow-up, 31 of the 119 patients with progression (26.1%) had one or more of the composite events (P < .0001).

The median rates of progression to LSM-defined cirrhosis in the overall cohort were 2% at 1 year, 11% at 3 years, and 16% at 5 years.

Researchers found a correlation between progression to LSM-defined cirrhosis and baseline histological fibrosis stage on biopsy, with a rate of 7% among those with no baseline fibrosis, 9% each for patients with stage I A-C or stage II fibrosis, 24% of those with baseline bridging fibrosis, and 25% of those with baseline cirrhosis.

A comparison of the time to a composite clinical outcome event between patients with progression to LSM-defined cirrhosis and those without progression showed that LSM-defined progression was associated with near doubling in risk, with a hazard ratio of 1.84 (P = .0039).

In a multivariate Cox regression analysis controlling for age, sex, race, BMI, diabetes status, and baseline LSM, only LSM-defined progression (HR, 1.93; P < .01) and age (HR, 1.03; P < .01) were significant predictors.

Dr. Gawrieh noted that while age was a statistically significant factor, it was only weakly associated.

“These data suggest that development of cirrhosis LSM criteria is a promising surrogate for clinical outcomes in patients with NAFLD,” Dr. Gawrieh concluded.


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