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Keywords:

  • fatty liver disease;
  • BMI;
  • alanine aminotransferase;
  • aspartate aminotransferase;
  • γ-glutamyltransferase

Abstract

Objective: Interleukin (IL)-18 has been associated with obesity and insulin resistance, both risk factors for the development of liver disease, but the role of IL-18 in liver disease associated with insulin resistance is presently unknown. We hypothesized that circulating IL-18 would be related to serum concentrations of liver chemistry tests (LCTs) in apparently healthy subjects and wished to study whether this correlation was dependent on insulin sensitivity (SI).

Research Methods and Procedures: One hundred six apparently healthy white men consecutively enrolled in a cross-sectional, population-based study dealing with SI in men were studied, and SI (minimal model analysis), LCTs (colorimetry), and IL-18 serum concentrations (immunoassay) were assessed.

Results: Compared with subjects in the lowest quartile for serum IL-18, subjects in the highest quartile exhibited increased serum triglycerides and decreased SI, in addition to higher serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (all p < 0.05). The direct association between both ALT and AST and IL-18 was further confirmed by examining the distribution of serum IL-18 by quartiles of ALT and AST. Subjects in the highest quartile for serum ALT and AST had higher IL-18 concentrations compared with subjects in the lowest quartile for these LCTs (both p = 0.01). In multiple regression analysis, IL-18, but not SI, was an independent predictor of serum concentrations of ALT and AST, explaining 7% and 4% of their variance, respectively.

Discussion: In summary, IL-18 serum concentrations are associated in apparently healthy humans with plasma concentrations of various LCTs. IL-18 could contribute to the development of liver disease associated with insulin resistance.