Clinical significance of serum autoantibodies in patients with NAFLD: Results from the nonalcoholic steatohepatitis clinical research network

Raj Vuppalanchi, Robert J. Gould, Laura A. Wilson, Aynur Unalp-Arida, Oscar W. Cummings, Naga Chalasani, Kris V. Kowdley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Purpose Some studies have suggested that autoantibodies might define a subcategory and phenotype of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) associated with advanced histological features. We evaluated the relationship between the presence of serum autoantibodies and liverhistology in a large cohort of well-characterized patients with NAFLD. Methods A total of 864 NAFLD patients participating in two prospective multicentre clinical studies underwent testing for serum autoantibodies within 24 months of a liver biopsy. Liver histology was compared between the patients with and without ANA C ≥: 160 or ASMA C ≥: 40 or both. Results Autoantibodies were present in 182 patients (21%). There was no difference in age, gender, race, body mass index (BMI), homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), or history of diabetes between the two groups. Biopsies in subjects with autoantibodies were less likely to have moderate-to-severe steatosis (i.e., >33%) compared to controls (57.1 vs. 43.0%, P value = 0.0006). Lobular inflammation (46.7 vs. 47.5%), ballooning degeneration (38.5 vs. 42.5%), and advanced fibrosis (33.2 vs. 29.3%) were not different between the two groups. Histologic evidence of 'definite' NASH did not differ significantly between the two groups (55.5 vs. 58.9%). After adjusting for age, gender, BMI, race, and diabetes, the presence of autoantibodies was independently associated with lower prevalence of moderate- to-severe steatosis [odds ratio (OR), 0.58; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.41-0.82; P = 0.01]. Conclusion Autoantibodies are frequently positive in NAFLD in the absence of autoimmune hepatitis and their occurrence is not associated with more advanced histologic features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalHepatology International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012



  • Autoantibodies
  • Liver histology
  • NASH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology

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