Serum Wisteria floribunda agglutinin-positive Mac-2 binding protein more reliably distinguishes liver fibrosis stages in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease than serum Mac-2 binding protein

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Serum Mac-2 binding protein (M2BP) and Wisteria floribunda agglutinin-positive Mac-2 binding protein (WFA+-M2BP) are used to estimate the liver fibrosis stage in chronic liver diseases. However, few head-to-head studies have been carried out to compare the two biomarkers in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


Serum M2BP and WFA+-M2BP levels were compared against clinical characteristics and liver histological manifestations in the same samples collected from 213 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients.


Median levels (range) of M2BP and WFA+-M2BP were 1.58 (0.70–7.75) pg/mL and 0.85 (0.22–11.32) cut-off index (COI), respectively. Fibrosis stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 were determined in 136, 37, 17, and 23 patients, respectively. Median levels of both biomarkers increased stepwise with fibrosis progression. The M2BP and WFA+-M2BP levels showed a significant positive correlation (r = 0.643, P = 2.91 × 10−26), but a marked discrepancy between both biomarkers was noted in five stage 4 and three stage 1 patients, who had high WFA+-M2BP but relatively low M2BP levels. Most of these outliers had findings suggestive of more advanced fibrosis. For diagnosing any fibrosis severity, WFA+-M2BP had greater area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and predictive accuracy than M2BP. Among eight fibrosis markers/indices, WFA+-M2BP yielded the second highest AUC (0.832) and the highest predictive accuracy (82.2%) to diagnose cirrhosis. In addition, WFA+-M2BP showed the second highest predictive accuracy to diagnose severe fibrosis (78.4%) and significant fibrosis (76.1%).


This head-to-head comparison suggests that WFA+-M2BP is superior to M2BP for distinguishing liver fibrosis stages in NAFLD patients. A marked discrepancy between the two biomarkers may be indicative of advanced NAFLD (UMIN000023286).

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