Vitamin D is Not Associated with Severity in NAFLD: Results of a Paired Clinical and Gene Expression Profile Analysis

Yuval A. Patel, Ricardo Henao, Cynthia A. Moylan, Cynthia D. Guy, Dawn L. Piercy, Anna Mae Diehl, Manal F. Abdelmalek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES:The pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is complex. Vitamin D (VitD) has been implicated in NAFLD pathogenesis because it has roles in immune modulation, cell differentiation and proliferation, and regulation of inflammation. We evaluated the association of VitD levels, hepatic gene expression for VitD metabolizing genes, and NAFLD histological severity.METHODS:Two adult cohorts, controls (n=39) and NAFLD (n=244), who underwent liver biopsy were compared. Two-sided t-tests or Wilcoxon's rank-sum tests for continuous predictors and chi-squared tests or Fisher's exact tests for categorical variables were used to analyze the association of VitD and NAFLD. Generalized linear models were used to analyze the association of VitD levels and VitD metabolizing genes with histological severity of NAFLD while adjusting for potential confounders and correcting for multiple comparisons.RESULTS:NAFLD patients were more likely than controls to have higher HbA1c (6.5±1.2 vs 5.9±1.0; P=0.009), a risk factor for VitD deficiency. However, no difference in VitD levels was observed between groups. VitD levels did not correlate with the severity of hepatic steatosis, lobular or portal inflammation, or ballooned hepatocytes after adjusting for confounding factors. Furthermore, no association was noted between VitD deficiency or differential expression of genes involved in VitD metabolism and severity of hepatic fibrosis or any other histologic feature of NAFLD.CONCLUSIONS:Neither VitD deficiency, nor hepatic expression of VitD-related genes, associate with the presence or histologic severity of NAFLD in patients. Hence, despite preclinical evidence implicating VitD in NAFLD pathogenesis, VitD deficiency does not appear to be associated with NAFLD severity in humans.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1591-1598
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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