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Summary

Background

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is prevalent in affluent countries and is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome.

Aim

To study the prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes and postchallenge hyperglycaemia in Chinese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Methods

73 consecutive patients with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and no history of diabetes underwent comprehensive metabolic screening. Diagnosis of diabetes and impaired glucose regulation was based on the 2006 American Diabetes Association criteria.

Results

The prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients was 33% and 29%, respectively. Among patients with 2-h plasma glucose above 7.8 mm, 47% had normal fasting glucose (below 5.6 mm). Impaired glucose tolerance was more common in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis than those with simple hepatic steatosis (P = 0.036), and 2-h plasma glucose correlated with fibrosis stage (Spearman coefficient: 0.25, P = 0.046). In a binary logistic regression analysis, high fasting glucose and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were independent factors associated with diabetes. Nevertheless, if oral glucose tolerance test was only performed in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients with impaired fasting glucose, 20.8% of diabetes cases would be missed.

Conclusions

Isolated postchallenge hyperglycaemia is common among Chinese non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients without history of diabetes. It is associated with histological severe disease, and cannot be accurately predicted by any fasting glucose cut-off.