Title: Gender differences in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in obese children and adolescents: a large cross-sectional study
Source: Hepatology International 2023, Oct 20. [E-publication]
Date of publication: October 2023
Publication type: Article
Abstract: Objective: Previous studies have reported sex differences in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) among adults; however, little is known about its occurrence in children and adolescents. This study aims to examine the prevalence of NAFLD among them and investigate the relationship between sex hormones and NAFLD.
Method: This study included 2999 obese Chinese children aged 2-18 years. We examined the prevalence of NAFLD by sex, age, and Tanner stage. The regression model and principal component analysis were used to analyze the relationship between sex hormones and NAFLD.
Results: The prevalence of NAFLD increased with age in both sexes, and the gender difference appeared before puberty. The prevalence in boys tended to stabilize at the age of 11 years, whereas girls reached their peak temporarily. NAFLD prevalence was positively associated with estradiol in boys (p = 0.011), but the opposite trend was observed in girls (p = 0.031). Testosterone levels decreased with the increase of NAFLD prevalence in boys (p < 0.001). Luteinizing hormone and prolactin were inversely associated with NAFLD prevalence in boys and girls, respectively. Results from the principal component analysis showed that sex hormone levels and fat distribution were important risk factors for the prevalence of NAFLD in obese children (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: The significant difference in NAFLD prevalence between genders in obese children begins in early childhood. This distinction emerges long before puberty onset and tends to stabilize during late adolescence. Sex hormones are associated with NAFLD prevalence and are influenced by the Tanner stages and fat distribution.