Reduced vitamin E levels have been reported in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), but no conclusive data on patients with simple steatosis (SS) are available. Aim of this study was to investigate the association between serum vitamin E levels and SS.
A cohort of 312 patients with cardio-metabolic risk factors was screened for liver steatosis by ultrasonography (US). We reasonably classified as SS patients with US-fatty liver, normal liver function tests (LFTs) and with Cytokeratin 18 <246 mIU/ml. Liver biopsy was performed in 41 patients with US-fatty liver and persistent elevation of LFTs (>6 months). Serum cholesterol-adjusted vitamin E (Vit E/chol) levels were measured.
Mean age was 53.9±12.5 years and 38.4% were women. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) was detected at US in 244 patients; of those 39 had biopsy-proven NASH and 2 borderline NASH. Vit E/chol was reduced in both SS (3.4±2.0, P<0.001), and NASH (3.5±2.1, P=0.006) compared with non-NAFLD patients (4.8±2.0 μmol/mmol chol). No difference was found between SS and NASH (P=0.785). After excluding patients with NASH, a multivariable logistic regression analysis found that Vit E/chol (odds ratio (OR): 0.716, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.602–0.851, P<0.001), alanine aminotransferase (ALT, OR: 1.093, 95% CI 1.029–1.161, P=0.004), body mass index (OR: 1.162, 95% CI 1.055–1.279, P=0.002) and metabolic syndrome (OR: 5.725, 95% CI 2.247–14.591, P<0.001) were factors independently associated with the presence of SS.
Reduced vitamin E serum levels are associated with SS, with a similar reduction between patients with SS and NASH, compared with non-NAFLD patients. Our findings suggest that the potential benefit of vitamin E supplementation should be investigated also in patients with SS.