Effect of liver steatosis on liver stiffness measurement in chronic hepatitis B patients with normal serum alanine aminotransferase levels: A multicentre cohort study

Liver steatosis is becoming increasingly common in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), and its effect on liver stiffness measurement (LSM), as assessed by transient elastography, remains controversial. Seven hundred and fifty-five patients with CHB and normal serum alanine aminotransferase levels, who underwent vibration-controlled transient elastography and liver biopsy, were included in the study. We examined whether the histological degree of liver steatosis affects the accuracy of transient elastography-assessed LSM in these patients. Among the 755 CHB patients included in the study, 286 (37.9%) had liver steatosis, of whom 156 had grade S1, 74 had grade S2, and 56 had grade S3 on histology. Presence of liver steatosis was independently associated with greater body mass index (BMI, adjusted-odds ratio [OR] = 5.786, 95% CI: 3.998–8.373, p = 0.018), and higher serum total cholesterol (adjusted-OR = 7.944, 95% CI: 4.731–13.339, p < 0.001) and triglyceride levels (adjusted-OR = 2.777, 95% CI: 2.050–3.761, p < 0.001). There was no significant association between liver steatosis and fibrosis stage (OR = 1.016, 95% CI: 0.905–1.140, p = 0.790). Age (B-coefficient = 0.020, 95% CI: 0.001–0.040, p = 0.044), BMI (B-coefficient = 0.060, 95% CI: 0.011–0.127, p = 0.019), serum gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase (GGT, B-coefficient = 0.015, 95% CI: 0.001–0.029, p = 0.032), positivity for HBeAg (B-coefficient = −0.816, 95% CI: −1.568 to −0.064, p = 0.034), as well as liver fibrosis stage (B-coefficient = 2.796, 95% CI: 2.501–3.090, p < 0.001), and inflammation activity grade (B-coefficient = 0.648, 95% CI: 0.162–1.135, p = 0.009) were all independently associated with higher LSM, while no significant association was found between degree of liver steatosis and LSM.

Among patients with the same histological fibrosis stage, LSM values did not show any significant difference among patients with absent, mild, moderate or severe steatosis.

We conclude that liver steatosis has no significant effect on transient elastography-measured LSM in CHB patients with normal serum alanine aminotransferase levels.