Microbiota, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: protocol of an observational study
De Grandi A
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BACKGROUND: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by triglyceride accumulation in the hepatocytes in the absence of alcohol overconsumption, commonly associated with insulin resistance and obesity. Both NAFLD and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are characterized by an altered microbiota composition, however the role of the microbiota in NAFLD and T2D is not well understood. To assess the relationship between alteration in the microbiota and NAFLD while dissecting the role of T2D, we established a nested study on T2D and non-T2D individuals within the Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol (CHRIS) study, called the CHRIS-NAFLD study. Here, we present the study protocol along with baseline and follow-up characteristics of study participants. METHODS: Among the first 4979 CHRIS study participants, 227 individuals with T2D were identified and recalled, along with 227 age- and sex-matched non-T2D individuals. Participants underwent ultrasound and transient elastography examination to evaluate the presence of hepatic steatosis and liver stiffness. Additionally, sampling of saliva and faeces, biochemical measurements and clinical interviews were carried out. RESULTS: We recruited 173 T2D and 183 non-T2D participants (78% overall response rate). Hepatic steatosis was more common in T2D (63.7%) than non-T2D (36.3%) participants. T2D participants also had higher levels of liver stiffness (median 4.8 kPa, interquartile range (IQR) 3.7, 5.9) than non-T2D participants (median 3.9 kPa, IQR 3.3, 5.1). The non-invasive scoring systems like the NAFLD fibrosis score (NFS) suggests an increased liver fibrosis in T2D (mean - 0.55, standard deviation, SD, 1.30) than non-T2D participants (mean - 1.30, SD, 1.17). DISCUSSION: Given the comprehensive biochemical and clinical characterization of study participants, once the bioinformatics classification of the microbiota will be completed, the CHRIS-NAFLD study will become a useful resource to further our understanding of the relationship between microbiota, T2D and NAFLD.