Elevated Hemoglobin Level Is Associated With Advanced Fibrosis in Pediatric Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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Abstract

Objectives:

Hemoglobin (Hb) and red blood cell distribution width (RDW) have been reported to be a risk marker of metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). No study exists on pediatric populations. We aimed to determine the association between hematological parameters, and the severity of disease in children with biopsy-proven NAFLD.

Methods:

A total of 117 children (85 boys, mean age 12 years) with ultrasound evidence of NAFLD undergoing liver biopsy for diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), were prospectively enrolled between January 2011 and May 2013 in the setting of a tertiary care center. Children were screened for routine hematological and metabolic parameters, and causes of liver steatosis other than nonalcoholic were excluded, before liver biopsy was performed.

Results:

A total of 41 NAFLD (boys 29, mean age 11.2 years) and 76 NASH (boys 56, mean age 12.8 years) children were studied. Alanine transaminase levels were significantly higher in NASH group compared with NAFLD group (P  = 0.05), and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance and triglycerides levels (P  = 0.03 and 0.02, respectively). Regarding hematological components: red cell count, Hb, hematocrit, and RDW values were all significantly higher in NASH group compared with NAFLD group (P < 0.05 for each parameter).

Conclusions:

Children with NASH were more likely to have high levels of RDW compared to those with steatosis only. Moreover, NASH was associated with higher red cell count, Hb, and hematocrit. If confirmed in future follow-up studies, hematological parameters may be introduced in algorithms for NASH risk prediction.

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