Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in Malaysia: A demographic, anthropometric, metabolic and histological study

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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasing rapidly in the Asia–Pacific region. There has been a paucity of studies from the region. The aims of this study were to define the demographic, anthropometric, metabolic and histological characteristics of patients with NAFLD in our local population and to determine independent predictors of severe liver fibrosis.


Patients with persistently raised liver enzymes and/or fatty liver detected on ultrasonography with exclusion of other liver disorders were prospectively recruited. Their insulin resistance was assessed using the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance score. A liver biopsy was performed in all cases for grading (for steatohepatitis) and staging (for fibrosis) of NAFLD. Independent risk factors for fibrosis were determined using multiple logistic regression analysis.


Seventy-five patients were recruited: 39 men (52%) and 36 women (48%). The mean age of the patients was 47.0 ± 12.2 years. Of these, 58 patients (77.3%) were centrally obese, 29 patients (38.7%) were diabetic and 15 patients (20.0%) had impaired glucose tolerance. Insulin resistance was diagnosed in 62 out of 64 (96.9%) patients. Benign steatosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and cirrhosis were diagnosed in three (4.3%), 59 (84.3%) and eight (11.4%) of 70 patients, respectively. Significant independent predictors of liver fibrosis were; male sex (P = 0.019, OR = 5.55, CI = 1.33–23.18) and Indian race (P = 0.013, OR = 8.21, CI = 1.56–43.16).


The full histological spectrum of NAFLD was seen in our patients. The majority of patients were insulin resistant, centrally obese and either diabetic or had impaired glucose tolerance. The predictors of severe liver fibrosis were male sex and Indian race.

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