A study by Perspectum Diagnostics using UK Biobank data has revealed that the prevalence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) among UK adults could be as high as 12%.1 NASH is a progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is now considered to be one of the major causes of cirrhosis of the liver.
The data, which were presented at The International Liver Congress in Paris, came from an analysis of UK Biobank. The researchers used innovative digital scanning technology LiverMultiScan to analyse MRI data from 2,895 UK Biobank participants to calculate the overall percentage of people in the database who are expected to have NASH. The projected figure of 12% suggests the number of people with undiagnosed NASH could be significantly higher than the 2-3% previously estimated.
The UK Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has previously warned of the impact the growing prevalence of fatty liver disease will have on the nation’s health, and the drain on NHS resources. Dr Rajarshi Banerjee, CEO of Perspectum Diagnostics commented, “Currently most people with NASH are diagnosed with a liver biopsy when the disease has already progressed and they have symptoms. We now have the technology to find these people much earlier using a less invasive test which gives doctors and patients the power to take action and a better chance of reversing their liver damage. This is better for the patient and for the NHS.”
LiverMultiScan is a test that combines digital image processing and trained experts to quantify and characterise tissue from an MRI scan of the liver, giving doctors reliable information about the health of the whole liver. It can be used with modern MRI scanners, so no new hardware is needed. It is approved for use across Europe to aid diagnosis of liver disorders and abnormalities.
Judi Rhys, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust added, “This study indicates that the UK prevalence of NASH – the more serious form of fatty liver disease – could be significantly higher than we thought, and potentially even higher than Type 2 diabetes in this population. This will present a huge burden on the NHS in years to come – with an increasing number of people requiring care for cirrhosis or needing liver transplants. Greater awareness of the risk factors of fatty liver disease is crucial. We also need patients to have much better access to non-invasive diagnostic tools to help to catch people earlier in their disease so they can make lifestyle changes or seek other treatments that will help them to prevent further damage and improve the health of their liver.”
Inflammation and/or fibrosis, and steatosis – NASH
Example images for a UK Biobank individual with high cT1 (left, 990ms) and high PDFF (right, 22%).
No inflammation or fibrosis, steatosis – NAFLD
Example images for a UK Biobank individual with low cT1 (left, 684ms) and high PDFF (right, 16%).
Copyright Perspectum Diagnostics Ltd.
Images derived from data obtained through UK Biobank Access Application number 9914
- 1. Harrison S, Wilman HR, Kelly MD, et al. Prevalence and stratifcation of NAFLD/NASH in a UK and US cohort using non-invasive multiparametric MRI. Poster presented at the International Liver Congress 2018, Paris, France.