PNPLA3-Associated Steatohepatitis: Toward a Gene-Based Classification of Fatty Liver Disease.
ABSTRACT Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the most common hepatic disorders worldwide. Given the high-calorie nutrition of children and adults, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is expected to become a major cause of cirrhosis and eventually liver transplantation. Familial clustering and ethnic differences indicate that genetic factors contribute to NAFLD. Recently, the common variant p.I148M of the enzyme adiponutrin (PNPLA3) has emerged as a major genetic determinant of hepatic steatosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis as well as its pathobiological sequelae fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular cancer. PNPLA3 encodes a lipid droplet-associated, carbohydrate-regulated lipogenic and/or lipolytic enzyme. Homozygous carriers of the PNPLA3 variant are prone to develop cirrhosis in the absence of other risk factors such as alcohol or viral hepatitis. Here we review the plethora of studies that unraveled the association between PNPLA3 and NAFLD in children and adults, discuss its distinct effects on liver and metabolic traits, and introduce the term PNPLA3-associated steatohepatitis (PASH) as a novel gene-based liver disease. Given the prevalence of the risk allele in 40 to 50% of Europeans, the authors conclude that PNPLA3 should be considered in the diagnostic workup of fatty liver disease and that homozygous risk allele carriers might benefit from careful cancer surveillance.
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ABSTRACT: Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) mediates cholestatic pruritus. Recently the enzyme PNPLA3, expressed in liver and skin, was demonstrated to metabolise LPA. Here we assess the association of the PNPLA3 variant p.Ile148Met, known to be associated with (non-)alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in genome-wide association studies, with cholestatic itch in 187 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and 250 PBC-free controls as well as 201 women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) and 198 female controls without a history of ICP. Our hypothesis was that the intensity of cholestatic itch differs in carriers of distinct PNPLA3 p.Ile148Met genotypes. Patients with PBC carrying the allele p.148Met that confers an increased NAFLD risk reported less itching than carriers of the p.148Ile allele (ANOVA P = 0.048). The PNPLA3 p.148Ile allele increased the odds of requiring plasmapheresis for refractory pruritus (OR = 3.94, 95% CI = 0.91-17.00, P = 0.048). In line with these findings, the PNPLA3 p.148Met allele was underrepresented in the ICP cohort (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.47-0.92, P = 0.013). Notwithstanding the need for further replication of these findings, we conclude that the PNPLA3 allele p.148Met might confer protection against cholestatic pruritus, possibly due to increased LPA-acyltransferase activity in liver and/or skin.Scientific reports. 01/2014; 4:6374.