The association of genetic polymorphisms with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in a longitudinal study

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Background: Several genetic variants are known to be associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We aimed to evaluate the longitudinal associations between genetic variants and NAFLD. Methods: We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in Korean individuals who underwent repeated health check-ups. NAFLD was defined by ultrasonography and exclusion of secondary causes. Results: The subjects had a median age of 50.0 years, and 54.8% were male. The median follow-up duration was 39 months. Among the 3905 subjects without NAFLD at baseline, 874 (22.4%) subjects developed NAFLD, and among the 1818 subjects with NAFLD at baseline, NAFLD regressed in 336 (18.5%) subjects during the follow-up period. After adjusting for age, sex and body mass index, no single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) passed Bonferroni correction for genome-wide significance in the development or regression of NAFLD. Among the SNPs that passed the genome-wide suggestiveness threshold (p = 1E-04) in the discovery set in the GWAS, only 1 SNP (rs4906353) showed an association with the development of NAFLD, with marginal significance in the validation set (p-value, discovery set = 9.68E-5 and validation set = 0.00531). Conclusions: This exploratory study suggests that longitudinal changes in NAFLD are not associated with genetic variants in the Korean population. These findings provide new insight into genetic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number344
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Genome-wide association study
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Single-nucleotide polymorphism


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