A new test will soon be available to predict advanced fibrosis in people with the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD is the leading cause of chronic liver disease, affecting about one in four people, including children, worldwide.
An international research team has developed a PRO-C3 biomarker-based score to accurately predict the presence (or absence) of advanced fibrosis in people with NAFLD.
The team, led by Professor Jacob George and Associate Professor Mohammed Eslam of the Westmead Medical Research Institute, at Westmead Hospital and the University of Sydney, discovered that PRO-C3 was progressively increasing as the fibrosis became more serious.
Professor George and his team combined this data with routine clinical information, such as age, the presence of diabetes, and platelet count, to develop a very accurate tool for detecting advanced fibrosis in the non-alcoholic fatty liver.
The results exceed the existing fibrosis scores, accurately identifying 92% of patients with advanced fibrosis.
The principal investigator, Professor George, said the tool would help identify patients at higher risk of long-term health problems.
“Given the high global prevalence of non-alcoholic liver disease, we need a non-invasive clinical tool to accurately measure fibrosis,” said Professor George.
Associate Professor Eslam added, “Our tool will help identify advanced fibrosis in patients, which is crucial because they are the people most likely to develop future health complications.
“If cases of NAFLD and fibrosis are detected and treated quickly, permanent liver injury and other life-threatening diseases can be prevented,” he said.
NAFLD, also known as “fatty liver”, occurs when more than five percent of the liver is composed of adipose tissue. As the name suggests, it affects people who drink little or no alcohol.
Professor George said that physical inactivity and obesity were some of the main causes of the global increase in NAFLD.
The non-alcoholic fatty liver disease also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
NAFLD begins with the accumulation of fat in the liver and can cause scarring in the liver. The healed organ eventually diminishes and the risk of liver failure and cancer increases.
The study included 431 patients from Australia, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
Professor George and his team are now hoping to validate the score in the general community before widespread application and clinical availability.