Can low liver fat be bad for your heart? AMRA Medical helps explore this question with MRI

Recent publication shows data from the Dallas Heart Study and UK Biobank links discordant phenotype with cardiometabolic outcomes

LINKÖPING, Sweden, Sept. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- AMRA Medical today announced research linking cardiometabolic health outcomes with discordant visceral and liver fat phenotypes is accepted for publication in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Collaboratively, AMRA, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and UT Southwestern combine prospective data from both the UK Biobank and the Dallas Heart Study to build on previous research indicating that fat accumulation patterns are differentially associated with metabolic disease. This research challenges the current paradigm on disease risks associated with fatty liver disease and highlights the importance of assessing visceral obesity in the context of liver disease.

The researchers launched this study on the basis of an unexpected finding from previous research. In the presence of visceral obesity, low liver fat was associated with coronary heart disease (CHD). In the current study, the researchers explore this association further using health outcome data in both the multiethnic Dallas Heart Study (comprising 2064 individuals) and the large UK Biobank where AMRA's MRI-based methods have been used for body composition analysis. The researchers investigated the association between different visceral fat - liver fat phenotypes and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) by dividing the study populations into four different groups based on the combination of either high or low levels of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and liver fat (LF): low VAT - low LF, low VAT - high LF, high VAT - high LF and lastly high VAT - high LF.

The publication shows that visceral fat most effectively separated the cohort into high-risk and low-risk individuals. However, in the context of visceral obesity, proper liver triglyceride regulation seems to be highly important: In the presence of visceral obesity, a high liver fat was strongly associated with a higher risk for T2DM, and low liver fat was strongly associated with a higher risk for CVD. Interestingly, high liver fat without visceral obesity was not associated with a higher risk for CVD and was only modestly associated with a higher risk for T2DM.

Low liver fat in a patient with visceral obesity may indicate a dysfunction in the liver's capacity to accumulate fat. Recognizing the impact of lowering liver fat with regards to visceral obesity could aid researchers in the design of clinical trials and enhance the development of effective therapies, particularly for liver diseases such as NAFLD. The study findings are particularly important for those looking to pharmacologically reduce liver fat. From a safety perspective, it is important to understand how a drug-induced reduction in liver fat changes a patient's phenotype and disease risk profile. If the reduction in liver fat is not concurrent with a resolution of the patient's visceral obesity, are they as a result at greater risk of developing heart disease following treatment?

Learn more about these findings and how MRI can be used to quantitatively assess fat (and muscle) composition throughout the body by reading the full publication titled "Cardiometabolic Health Outcomes Associated with Discordant Visceral and Liver Fat Phenotypes: Insights from The Dallas Heart Study and UK Biobank".

About AMRA Medical
AMRA Medical is a digital health company at the forefront of medical imaging and precision medicine. The company has developed a new global standard in body composition analysis, delivering multiple fat and muscle biomarkers with unrivaled accuracy and precision – all from a rapid whole-body MRI scan.

AMRA offers medical device and medical research services to support transformative care and vital decision-making, from clinical research to clinical care.

About UKBB
UK Biobank is a large-scale biomedical database and research resource, containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants. The database, which is regularly augmented with additional data, is globally accessible to approved researchers and scientists undertaking vital research into the most common and life-threatening diseases. UK Biobank's research resource is a major contributor to the advancement of modern medicine and treatment and has enabled several scientific discoveries that improve human health.

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