The Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in Adults

Conditions:Gastrointestinal, Gastrointestinal
Therapuetic Areas:Gastroenterology
Age Range:18 - 80
Start Date:August 25, 2015
End Date:June 1, 2018
Contact:Clinical Research Coordinator, MS

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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a global health concern with a suspected
increasing prevalence due to the rise in obesity and diabetes mellitus. The vast majority of
patients will have isolated steatosis or steatosis with mild inflammation that is very
unlikely to progress in severity. However, about 25% of patients with NAFLD have
non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the more aggressive form of the disease that is
associated with fibrosis progression and potential risk for cirrhosis and end-stage liver
disease complications. Additionally, multiple studies have demonstrated an association
between NAFLD and the presence of coronary artery disease by either coronary CT angiography
(CCTA) or coronary artery calcium (CAC) score. Cardiovascular disease is the most important
cause of mortality in patients with the entire spectrum of NAFLD. In the era of advanced
imaging and functional vascular assessment it is possible that novel risk assessments are
poised to refine overall prognostic estimation in this population. Multiple analyses have
suggested that NAFLD is an independent and strong predictor of significant CAD independent
of cardiovascular risk factors, including a significant burden of high risk CCTA findings in
one analysis of symptomatic patients in the emergency department. Given the multiple
metabolic derangements inherent in the NAFLD population, endothelial dysfunction is also an
important contributor to global cardiovascular dysfunction. Furthermore, data suggests that
patients with NAFLD may be at increased risk of adenomatous polyp formation and colorectal
adenocarcinoma. In addition, it is suboptimal to require a liver biopsy to diagnose NASH.
Recent imaging advances have made it possible to assess liver fibrosis but have yet to be
fully studied in NAFLD. The purpose of this study is to assess the current prevalence and
severity of NAFLD in adult subjects. Secondary endpoints include correlation to new vascular
function (cine scan of the abdominal aorta) and echocardiographic imaging modalities
available at BAMC and to circulating biomarker panels as well as to determine the prevalence
and severity of CAD by multidetector coronary CT angiography with subject outcomes being
monitored prospectively. Additionally, correlation of NAFLD diagnosis to colonoscopy
findings will be performed.

In this prospective study, adult patients ranging in age from 18-80, routinely seen in the
Brooke Army Medical Center Gastroenterology clinics will be eligible for enrollment.
Approximately 950 adult patients will be enrolled. In phase I the prevalence of NAFLD and
NASH will be determined, non-invasive imaging techniques for the diagnosis of NAFLD and NASH
will be explored, and the relationship between colon polyps and NAFLD will be evaluated.
Phase II will be offered to participants that qualified for a liver biopsy. In phase II the
prevalence and severity of CAD, endothelial dysfunction, and diastolic dysfunction within
the population of subjects with NAFLD will be determined.

Phase I:

After obtaining informed consent and confirming that the subject has met inclusion and
exclusion criteria for the study, the study will employ a questionnaire to be completed by
the subject. This questionnaire will include data such as race and ethnic group, past
medical history, current medications, etc. The subject will then have routine labs (liver
function tests, fasting insulin, glucose, and a pregnancy test for all female subjects),
FibroScan® and MRE/MRI done to assess for the presence or absence of hepatic steatosis,
inflammation, fibrosis, iron quantification and diameter and luminal characteristics of the
abdominal aorta. Subjects will be called by the PI or an AI to return to the clinic for
additional study procedures to include a core liver biopsy if they are identified to have
one or more of the following:

- greater or equal to 5% steatosis on MRI or

- liver stiffness greater than 7 kPa on Fibroscan®, or

- evidence of fibrosis on MRE or

- LIF score of 2.0 or greater

The PI/AI will let the subject know that he/she qualifies for further diagnostic testing as
part of the trial and will discuss tests results with them in detail.

FibroScan examination will be performed to assess liver stiffness according to the
manufacturer's recommendation and in accordance with the device's FDA clearance. The device
is equipped with two probes (M and XL) dedicated to different morphology and operating at
different measurement depths. The M probe operates between 25 and 65 mm below the skin
surface and the XL probe operates between 35 and 75 mm. The device's software automatically
recommends which probe is the most appropriate during examination based on the real time
assessment of the skin to liver capsule distance (automatic probe selection tool). The
FibroScan used in this study will be equipped with a software allowing, in addition to liver
stiffness, measurement of the Controlled Attenuation Parameter (CAP) which is related to
liver steatosis with different algorithm. This additional software feature is FDA approved.
Operators will be trained and certified by the manufacturer or its local representative.
Recommendation from the Automatic Probe Selection tool will be followed. At least ten valid
measurements should be obtained. De-identified acquisition files will be reviewed by the
device's manufacturer (Echosens) to confirm the operator's choice of measurement depths and
eventually change them as well as analyze the additional ultrasonic signals.

In addition to the Fibroscan, a second non-invasive imaging technique, MRE/MRI Liver
MultiScan for detecting steatosis, inflammation and liver fibrosis or stiffness will be
conducted. This data will be used to correlate with the presence of NAFLD/NASH. MRI-Liver
MultiScan is a post MRI processing software. It involves a specialized magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) technique/sequences that measures fat, iron and fibrosis in the liver using T1
mapping. The procedure has no need for intravenous contrast. LiverMultiScan is currently
approved by the FDA for use with Siemens 3T MRI with E11 software. However, this MRI model
is not being used at BAMC. Therefore, the use of LMS locally will conducted under an IDE
exemption for diagnostic devices (21 CFR 812.2(c))(3). The LMS software will not be used to
clinically diagnose subjects. Rather, data will be collected and analyzed by the site and
manufacturer (Perspectum) with the knowledge that MRI is not performed in accordance with
LMS labeling.

BAMC Radiology will work in collaboration with Perspectum to complete the post processing
review of the MRI image data to correlate with the presence of NAFLD/NASH. The BAMC
Radiology Department AI's will de-identify the image data (remove all PHI), load on a secure
server and have Perspectum Diagnostics complete the post-processing interpretations.

The MR elastography scan will be conducted in conjuncture with the MRI scan and
post-processed by AIs within the BAMC Radiology Department. In addition, AIs in the BAMC
Radiology Department will conduct a safety read of all scans. The results of the MRE and the
safety read will be placed in the subject's electronic medical record.

Participants that qualify for a core liver biopsy based upon the results from the FibroScan
and MRE/MRI LiverMultiScan will be asked to return to specimen collection for additional
blood work prior to the liver biopsy. This will consist of a complete blood count (CBC),
coagulation panel, fasting lipid panel, GGT, vitamin D level, renal function panel,
ferritin, hemoglobin A1C, and chronic hepatitis panel.

Subjects will then undergo a percutaneous liver biopsy to establish diagnosis of NASH. This
will occur in the Gastroenterology Clinic at Brooke Army Medical Center. The liver tissue
will be submitted to BAMC Pathology Department for evaluation by an AI, an experienced
hepatopathologist. The pathology results will be used to identify subjects who have the more
severe form of NAFLD, NASH. The pathologist will provide an overall diagnostic
interpretation based on the criteria reported by Brunt et al. and by the NAFLD Activity
Score (NAS). According to this scoring system, the degree of steatosis and inflammatory
activity is measured using a zero to eight scale (steatosis=0-3; lobular inflammation=0-3;
ballooning=0-2). The NAS is the unweighted sum of steatosis, lobular inflammation, and
hepatocellular ballooning scores. The stage of fibrosis will be assessed using a zero to
four scale (0=no fibrosis; 1=mild/moderate zone three perisinusoidal fibrosis, or
portal/periportal fibrosis only; 2= perisinusoidal and portal/periportal fibrosis; 3=
bridging fibrosis; 4= cirrhosis). Additionally, at the time of liver biopsy, 4 additional
unstained slides will be prepared for morphometry analysis by Echosens. The liver
histological diagnosis will be established by an experienced pathologist blinded to the
clinical characteristics of the subjects, radiographic studies and the serum biomarkers. The
outside expert pathologist will use the same scoring system as the local pathologist. If
there is a discrepancy between the two pathology results for a subject the final
determination will be made by the local BAMC pathologist. An addendum will be placed in the
electronic medical record by the BAMC pathologist. The subject will be informed of the
change and documentation of the new diagnosis and any further treatments will be made in

Echosens will use the liver biopsy slides to correlate the FibroMeter™ NAFLD/VCTE test with
liver fibrosis and the presence of NAFLD and NASH. FibroMeter™ is a non-invasive diagnostic
test that evaluates the level of fibrosis in the liver using patient clinical data (age and
weight) and a proprietary selection of standard clinical lab results including platelets,
AST, ALT, ferritin, glucose and Alpha-2-macroglobulin levels. The results of these locally
run tests will be entered into the Echosens FibroMeter website for FibroMeter NAFLD/VCTE
calculation. This test is approved in Europe and provides means for detection of significant
fibrosis, detection of cirrhosis (screening for esophageal varices and hepatocellular
carcinoma) and a quantitative estimate of fibrosis staging, thereby providing opportunity
for serial monitoring of fibrosis in suspected cases. The FibroMeter test result will then
be used by Echosens to correlate with the morphometry analysis. All results are identified
with only the subject study number. Results from the FibroMeter test will not be used to
support a FDA marketing application. Additionally, the results of the FibroMeter will not be
used clinically nor to determine the performance of any subsequent research procedure. The
results will not be placed in the subject's medical records.

An additional 5 ml of whole blood and 5 ml of serum will be collected and stored by a
research coordinator, nurse, research assistant, or investigator for analysis of specific
biomarkers to include Hyaluronic acid, CK-18 (M30), FGF-21, Mac-2BP, FAS, AFP, YKL-40,
Alpha-2-macroglobulin and a panel of 46 fatty acids during the liver biopsy appointment.
Phlebotomies will be performed in Hepatology Research. The stored serum will be kept in the
BAMC Gastroenterology Clinic in a -80 degree freezer and batch shipped to an outside lab
periodically for analysis. Specimens will be identified by a designated research code only
available to the local study team, thereby removing any personal identifiers on specimens
prior to shipment to an outside lab.

In order to address aim 3, subjects enrolled in the study who have undergone or will undergo
colonoscopy during study participation as part of their routine clinical care will have
their AHLTA/CHCS records reviewed and those with colon polyps or colon masses will be
evaluated against their imaging study findings. The correlation between colon polyp
number/severity and the presence of NAFLD will be ascertained.

Subjects qualifying for a liver biopsy will be referred to the study team members in the
Cardiology clinic with the option to enroll in Phase II of the protocol.

Phase II:

Phase II will consist of three cardiology procedures.

1. Coronary CT angiography: All subjects who meet inclusion criteria for a percutaneous
liver biopsy, are consented to phase II, and do not have known CAD defined as prior
percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or have
not undergone CCTA within the previous 12 months, will undergo a CCTA with CAC score.
Subjects undergoing this portion of the analysis will need a renal function panel
within 30 days of the scan date with a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of ≥ 60
mls/min/1.73m2 by the Cockcroft-Gault equation, no prior history of an allergic
reaction to intravenous CT contrast, and no contraindications to administration of
sublingual nitroglycerin and nodal blocking agents. All CCTA scans will be analyzed by
a cardiologist with level III ACC/ACR certified imaging expertise in accordance with
the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) guidelines. Scans will be
performed in accordance with SCCT guidelines. Studies will be obtained utilizing a
128-slice dual source scanner with a high pitch, single heart beat image acquisition
capabilities (Somatom Definition Flash CT®, Siemens, Erlagen, Germany). CAC scanning
will occur first at a standard tube voltage of 120 keV and 3 mm slice acquisition and
CareDose® modulation of tube current enabled for all scans. CT technologist will be
responsible for contacting the on-call CT imaging specialist for CAC score ≥400 prior
to proceeding to CCTA acquisition. Continuation to CCTA will be at the discretion of
the CT imaging specialist. Tube voltage and image acquisition protocoling will be
selected by the CT technologist in consultation with the on-call cardiac CT imaging
specialist in accordance with the flowsheet depicted in Appendix 3. Tube voltage of
120keV will be used for BMI > 30 and lowered to 100keV for BMI ≤ 30. CareDose®
modulation of tube current will be enabled for all scans. Pretreatment with nodal
blocking agents will be as follows: for HR < 70 bpm and systolic blood pressure (SBP) >
100 mm Hg will be given 50mg orally, for HR > 70 bpm and SBP > 100 mm Hg will be given
100mg orally, and nodal blocker will be held for patients with HR < 50 bpm or SBP < 100
mm Hg at the time of evaluation. Additional nodal blocker will be administered
following initial dosing at the discretion of the cardiac imaging specialist. All
subjects with SBP > 90 mm Hg and without a history of phosphodiesterase inhibitor usage
in the preceding 72 hours received nitroglycerin spray 0.4-0.8 mg within 2 minutes of
scan acquisition. High-pitched, prospective, ECG-triggered helical scanning will be
performed with heart rate (HR) < 60 bpm and HR variability < 5 beats or with HR < 60
bpm at the discretion of the imaging specialist. The remaining scans will be performed
using prospective, ECG triggering acquisition centered at 70%-phase with between 10-20%
padding (40-80% of the R-R interval). Visapaque® intravenous (IV) contrast will be used
for all scans. A triphasic injection protocol consisting of 75mL of IV contrast
followed by 40 mL of 50% contrast mixed with normal saline chased with normal saline at
a flow rate of 5 mL/second will be used for all scans with total IV contrast volume of
105-125 mL. Contrast flow rates will be increased to 6 ml/second for patients with BMI
> 30. Coronary artery stenosis by CCTA will be determined on a per-patient and
per-vessel basis using an 18 segment model in accordance with SCCT guidelines for
interpretation. The major epicardial coronary arteries (left main, left anterior
descending, left circumflex, and right coronary arteries) will be graded for severity
of CAD, defined as obstructive CAD (>50% stenosis), non-obstructive CAD (≤50%
stenosis), or no CAD (vessels free of angiographic evidence of disease), respectively.
The posterior descending artery will be included in the left circumflex or right
coronary artery groups depending on its origin. The subject will have the option of
declining the CCTA and CAC scan. Subjects with known CAD as defined on recent prior
CCTA (within last 12 months) will not undergo CCTA, but their CAD history and/or prior
CCTA results will be included in the analysis.

2. Transthoracic Echocardiography (TTE): All subjects who meet inclusion criteria for a
percutaneous liver biopsy and consented to phase II will undergo an assessment of
cardiovascular diastolic performance measured using 2D and 3D transthoracic
echocardiography (TTE) with Doppler technology. The TTE will be performed during a
scheduled outpatient time slot at the convenience of the patient.

3. EndoPAT: Endothelial function will be measured in subjects who qualify for liver biopsy
and consent to phase II using the EndoPAT 2000®.. Every effort will be made to conduct
the EndoPat test on the same day as the CCTA for subject convenience. The EndoPAT 2000®
uses digital pulse amplitude tonometry. The EndoPAT device comprises a pneumatic
plethysmograph that applies uniform pressure the surface of the distal finger.
Throughout the test, the inflation pressure of the device will be set at 10 mmHg below
the diastolic blood pressure or 70 mmHg, whichever is lower. Baseline pulse amplitude
measurements will be taken for 5 minutes. Arterial flow will then be transiently
interrupted by inflating a pneumatic cuff placed on the patient's forearm. The cuff
will be inflated to 200 mmHg or 60 mmHg plus the systolic blood pressure, whichever is
higher. The pulse amplitude will be recorded for 5 minutes during the occlusion phase.
The blood pressure cuff is then deflated and post test measurements are recorded for 5
additional minutes. Pre and post test pulse amplitudes are compared to assess the
degree of reactive hyperemia.

Subjects found to have evidence of coronary artery calcium, endothelial dysfunction,
diastolic dysfunction and/or presence of non-calcific atherosclerosis on CCTA with maximal
stenosis < 50% will be referred to the cardiology clinic for assessment of cardiovascular
risk and aggressive medical and lifestyle risk factor modification. Patients with stenosis ≥
50% will also be referred to the cardiology clinic to be evaluated further for the need for
additional ischemic testing at the discretion of the treating physician.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Phase I:

1. Male and female patients (≥18 years of age to 80)

2. Eligible for care at Brooke Army Medical Center

Phase II:

1. Met the criteria for qualification for a percutaneous liver biopsy and completed
Phase I

2. Eligible for care at Brooke Army Medical Center

Exclusion Criteria:

- Phase I:

1. Patients with excessive alcohol use will be excluded as defined as >21 units of
alcohol/week for men and 14 units of alcohol/week for women over a 2 year time
frame. One drink "unit" or one standard drink is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer,
a 4-ounce glass of wine, or a 1-ounce shot of hard liquor.

2. Patients with prior history of liver disease to include chronic hepatitis B or
C, hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary
cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, HIV, or prior documentation of NAFLD.

3. Patients on medications known to cause fatty liver disease: tamoxifen,
corticosteroids, amiodarone, methotrexate, valproic acid

4. Patients carrying an implantable active medical device such as a pacemaker or a

5. Pregnant women

Phase II:

1. CCTA/CAC only: GFR <60 mls/min/1.73m2 or IV contrast dye allergy

2. CCTA/CAC only: contraindications to atrioventricular (AV) nodal blocking agents (high
degree AV block without permanent pacemaker, asthma, allergy to nodal blocking

3. Known CAD defined as previous PCI or CABG (Note: Subjects with CCTA within the past
12 months will not be excluded from study and repeat scan will not be needed but the
results of that previous scan will be included in the prevalence and severity
We found this trial at
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234
Phone: 210-916-9073
Fort Sam Houston, TX
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