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Original research
Clinical utility of 30% relative decline in MRI-PDFF in predicting fibrosis regression in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


Objective Emerging data suggest that a 30% relative decline in liver fat, as assessed by MRI-proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF), may be associated with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Activity Score improvement, but the association between decline in MRI-PDFF and fibrosis regression is not known. Therefore, we aimed to examine the association between ≥30% relative decline in MRI-PDFF and fibrosis regression in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Design This prospective study included 100 well-characterised patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD with paired contemporaneous MRI-PDFF assessment at two time points. MRI-PDFF response was defined as ≥30% relative decline in MRI-PDFF. The primary outcome was ≥1 stage histological fibrosis regression.

Results The median (IQR) age was 54 (43–62) years and body mass index was 31.9 (29–36) kg/m2. In multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analysis (adjusted for age, gender, diabetes status, race/ethnicity, interval between biopsies, gamma-glutamyl transferase, liver stiffness by magnetic resonance elastography and change in platelet counts), MRI-PDFF response was an independent predictor of fibrosis regression with an adjusted OR of 6.46 (95% CI 1.1 to 37.0, p=0.04). The proportion of patients with MRI-PDFF response with fibrosis regression, no change in fibrosis and fibrosis progression was 40.0%, 24.6% and 13.0%, respectively, and the proportion of patients with MRI-PDFF response increased with fibrosis regression (p=0.03).

Conclusion ≥30% reduction in MRI-PDFF in early phase trials can provide a useful estimate of odds of ≥1 stage improvement in fibrosis. These data may be helpful in sample size estimation in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis trials.

  • nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • liver imaging

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data can be provided upon request to credible investigators on verification for patient confidentiality.

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