Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasingly an indication for liver transplantation in adults. While severe obesity (SO, BMI ≥40 kg m−2) in adults is long standing, it is recent in duration in adolescents. With adolescent obesity on the rise, NAFLD is becoming the most frequent liver disease in adolescents. The hypothesis that SO adolescents and adults have different severity of NAFLD because of longer duration of obesity in SO adults was tested.

Design and Methods:

Preoperative clinical data, NAFLD activity and NASH (Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) scores from intraoperative liver biopsies were extracted from a prospective database of consecutively operated SO adolescents and adults (n = 24 each). Fasting preoperative serum inflammatory mediators were evaluated by ELISA.


Other than age, baseline BMI, ethnicity and gender distribution, the incidence and extent of dyslipidemia, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome were comparable between groups. Histologic scores for steatosis and inflammation were similar. Adolescents have significantly higher NASH incidence, hepatocyte injury scores and fibrosis. This was associated with higher serum C-reactive protein and sCD14 levels.


For comparable BMI and metabolic profile, SO adolescents have more advanced liver damage, more severe systemic inflammation, suggesting differences in NAFLD etiologies and more aggressive disease progression in the young obese population.