An adult-based genetic risk score for liver fat associates with liver and plasma lipid traits in children and adolescents

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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Genome-wide association studies have identified steatogenic variants that also showed pleiotropic effects on cardiometabolic traits in adults. We investigated the effect of eight previously reported genome-wide significant steatogenic variants, individually and combined in a weighted genetic risk score (GRS), on liver and cardiometabolic traits, and the predictive ability of the GRS for hepatic steatosis in children and adolescents.

APPROACH & RESULTS: Children and adolescents with overweight (including obesity) from an obesity clinic group (n = 1768) and a population-based group (n = 1890) were included. Cardiometabolic risk outcomes and genotypes were obtained. Liver fat was quantified using 1 H-MRS in a subset of 727 participants. Variants in PNPLA3, TM6SF2, GPAM and TRIB1 were associated with higher liver fat (p < .05) and with distinct patterns of plasma lipids. The GRS was associated with higher liver fat content, plasma concentrations of alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and favourable plasma lipid levels. The GRS was associated with higher prevalence of hepatic steatosis (defined as liver fat ≥5.0%) (odds ratio per 1-SD unit: 2.17, p = 9.7E-10). A prediction model for hepatic steatosis including GRS alone yielded an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.78 (95% CI 0.76-0.81). Combining the GRS with clinical measures (waist-to-height ratio [WHtR] SDS, ALT, and HOMA-IR) increased the AUC up to 0.86 (95% CI 0.84-0.88).

CONCLUSIONS: The genetic predisposition for liver fat accumulation conferred risk of hepatic steatosis in children and adolescents. The liver fat GRS has potential clinical utility for risk stratification.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLiver International
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1772-1782
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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

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