The prevalence of obesity and its related comorbidities, such as fatty liver, in children is increasing worldwide mostly due to changes in diet and life-style. Many serological markers have been suggested for screening of fatty liver but investigations for finding more reliable factors are still in progress.
This study aimed to investigate the correlation between the level of retinol binding protein-4 (RBP4) in the serum and sonographic grading of fatty-liver severity in obese Iranian children.
Patients and Methods
This case-control, double-blind study involved 51 obese children aged between five and 17 years as the case group. In addition, 35 healthy lean children with no liver problems were selected as the control group. Plasma RBP4 (using an ELISA), serum triglycerides (TG), low-density-lipoproteins (LDL), high-density-lipoproteins (HDL), total-cholesterol (Chol), and body mass index (BMI) were measured. Grading the severity of the fatty liver condition was done by an expert radiologist in the case group.
RBP4 levels in obese children (19 482.9 ± 3 302.2 pg/ml) were higher than those found in the lean control group (14 295.68 ± 2 381.3 pg/ml) (P < 0.05). In the obese patients, RBP4 levels showed a significant correlation with the grade of fatty liver and BMI (P < 0.05).
It was found that the level of RBP4 had a strong correlation with the severity of fatty liver. Therefore, RBP4 may be considered as a useful, noninvasive predictive biomarker of intrahepatic lipid content in obese children prior to using radiological investigations. In particular, abdominal sonography, for the evaluation of intrahepatic lipid content in obese patients, as the sensitivity of a sonography is decreased due to the increased thickness of the abdominal wall as a result of fat deposits.
Keywords: Fatty Liver, Obesity, RBP4 Protein, Human, Child, Ultrasonography