Background

Physiological manifestations of chronic diseases start decades before clinical diagnosis. For example, we found that retinal abnormalities were associated with fatty liver in obese subjects, but without diabetes or hypertension. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess liver abnormalities by elastography in first year university students in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Methods

We administered questionnaires for cardiometabolic risk assessment (CMRQ) and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)for alcohol consumption (AC) to 500 students. The CMRQ and AC were standardized. Using the CMRQ risk score, we selected 200 students (low vs. high risk) for liver elastography (Fibroscan) to assess stiffness (Kilopascals aPk) and controlled attenuation parameter (CAP dB/m) for steatosis assessment. AC was obtained by linear combination of time and amount of alcohol ingestion. Multiple regression (adjusted by age/sex) computed standardized coefficient (bz) of BMI and AC.

Results

Data were available from 198 students (females 60%); mean age 18.5 [SD 1.5], obese = 30%, mean aPk 4.9 [1.1], mean dB/m 254 [59]. AC was found in 54% and smoking in 19%. Partial correlations to explain aPk on BMI were 0.33 (bz=0.32, p<0.001), and AC -0.001 (p=0.9), and to explain dB/m on BMI were 0.7 (bz=0.7, p<0.001) and AC was -0.1 (p=0.14).

Conclusions

We conclude that despite half of this young adult population was consuming alcohol, the liver abnormalities were mainly associated with obesity. The future follow-up of this cohort should help us to delineate the temporal effects of each of these two factors on potential liver damage.