BACKGROUND & AIMS: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in children and adolescents today. In comparison to adult disease, pediatric NAFLD may show a periportal localization, which is associated with advanced fibrosis. This study aimed to assess the role of genetic risk variants for histologic disease pattern and severity in childhood NAFLD. METHODS: We studied 14 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in a cohort of 70 adolescents with biopsy-proven NAFLD. Genotype was compared to an adult control cohort (n=200) and analyzed in relation to histologic disease severity and liver tissue proteomics. RESULTS: Three of the 14 SNPs were significantly associated with pediatric NAFLD after FDR adjustment, rs738409 (PNPLA3, P=2.80x10(-06) ), rs1044498 (ENPP1, P=0.0091) and rs780094 (GCKR, P=0.0281). The severity of steatosis was critically associated with rs738409 (OR=3.25; 95% CI: 1.72-6.52, FDR adjusted P=0.0070). The strongest variants associated with severity of fibrosis were rs1260326, rs780094 (both GCKR) and rs659366 (UCP2). PNPLA3 was associated with a portal pattern of steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis. Proteome profiling revealed decreasing levels of GCKR protein with increasing carriage of the rs1260326/rs780094 minor alleles and down-regulation of the retinol pathway in rs738409 G/G carriers. Computational metabolic modelling highlighted functional relevance of PNPLA3, GCKR and UCP2 for NAFLD development. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence for the role of PNPLA3 as a determinant of portal NAFLD localization and severity of portal fibrosis in children and adolescents, the risk variant being associated with an impaired hepatic retinol metabolism. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Liver Int. 2018 Nov 16. doi: 10.1111/liv.14006.
Christian Hudert, S. Selinski, B. Rudolph, H. Blaker, C. Loddenkemper, R. Thielhorn, N. Berndt, K. Golka, C. Cadenas, J. Reinders, S. Henning, P. Bufler, Peter Jansen, Hergo Holzhütter, David Meierhofer, Jan Hengstler, S. Wiegand