It is known that metabolic dysfunction can lead to the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which comprises Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is characterised by the presence of hepatic steatosis specifically with the presence of metabolic dysfunctions. This includes obesity, diabetes mellitus, or two or more manifestations of metabolic dysregulation. As such, although evidence from previous cohort studies is lacking, it follows that an association between MAFLD and the development of IBD may exist.
This prospective cohort study firstly aimed to evaluate the association between MAFLD and incident IBD. Secondly, to examine the impact of liver function on IBD, it investigated the association between circulating liver function biomarkers and incident IBD.
The study’s primary analysis found that individuals with MAFLD have a higher risk of incident IBD than those without. Furthermore, while the association between MAFLD and Crohn’s disease incidence was significant, the study found no association between MAFLD and the incidence of ulcerative colitis.
In their secondary analysis, Chen et al. further established that circulating levels of MAFLD-indicating biomarkers (specifically low circulating levels of albumin and high circulating levels of alkaline phosphatase) are associated with increased IBD risk.