Central Obesity and Liver Iron Content: A Noninvasive Assessment in General Population by Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Amir Reza Radmard, Hossein Poustchi, Amir Pejman Hashemi Taheri, Marjan Gerami Seresht, Payam Mohammadinejad, Ali Yoonessi, Mehrdad Dadgostar, Mohammad Sadegh Rahmanian, Elham Jafari, Atefeh Zeinoddini, Reza Malekzadeh, Shahin Merat
Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2016, 69 (3-4): 181-189

BACKGROUND/AIM: Existing evidence points to an altered status of iron metabolism in obesity. We aimed to investigate whether central obesity is independently associated with estimated liver iron content (liver T2* value) in general population that used the noninvasive assessment method by MRI.

METHODS: The study was carried out on 200 subjects randomly selected from the Golestan Cohort Study who underwent abdominal MRI. Quantitative T2* maps of entire cross-sectional area of liver were calculated using a semi-automated software for estimating the levels of iron content. Segmentation and calculation of visceral (VFA) and subcutaneous fat area (SFA) were also performed.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference in mean liver T2* values between obese (body mass index, BMI >30 kg/m2) and non-obese (BMI ≤30 kg/m2) subjects. After controlling for other covariates, no statistically significant association was detected between liver T2* values and VFA, SFA and VFA/SFA ratio. The drop in the relative signal intensity as an indicator of steatosis and serum ferritin predicted liver T2* values that almost had the same strength (standardized β of -0.41 and -0.41, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Central obesity indices are not correlated with estimated liver iron content by MRI. Hepatic steatosis and serum ferritin seem to be the best predictors of hepatic T2* value. Since central obesity indices were not direct predictors of hepatic T2* value after the adjustment for confounding factors, it is possible that lipid accumulation in the liver locally, but not systematically, influences hepatic iron metabolism.

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