Genetic risk of fatty liver disease and mortality in the general population: A Mendelian randomization study

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Background & Aims: Fatty liver disease has been associated with higher all-cause as well as liver-related, ischemic heart disease (IHD)-related and extrahepatic cancer-related mortality in observational epidemiological studies. We tested the hypothesis that fatty liver disease is a causal risk factor for higher mortality. Methods: We genotyped seven genetic variants known to be associated with fatty liver disease (in PNPLA3, TM6SF2, HSD17B13, MTARC1, MBOAT7, GCKR, and GPAM) in 110 913 individuals from the Danish general population. Hepatic steatosis was measured by hepatic computed tomography in n = 6965. Using a Mendelian randomization framework, we tested whether genetically proxied hepatic steatosis and/or elevated plasma alanine transaminase (ALT) was associated with liver-related mortality. Results: During a median follow-up of 9.5 years, 16 119 individuals died. In observational analyses, baseline elevated plasma ALT was associated with higher all-cause (1.26-fold), liver-related (9-fold), and extrahepatic cancer-related (1.25-fold) mortality. In genetic analyses, the risk alleles in PNPLA3, TM6SF2, and HSD17B13 were individually associated with higher liver-related mortality. The largest effects were seen for the PNPLA3 and TM6SF2 risk alleles, for which homozygous carriers had 3-fold and 6-fold, respectively, higher liver-related mortality than non-carriers. None of the risk alleles, individually or combined into risk scores, were robustly associated with all-cause, IHD-related, or extrahepatic cancer-related mortality. In instrumental variable analyses, genetically proxied hepatic steatosis and higher plasma ALT were associated with liver-related mortality. Conclusions: Human genetic data support that fatty liver disease is a causal driver of liver-related mortality.

TidsskriftLiver International
Udgave nummer9
Sider (fra-til)1955-1965
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark and the Research Fund at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. The funding organizations had no role in any of the following: design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Liver International published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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