The term metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) has recently been suggested as an alternative to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Unlike NAFLD, MAFLD’s diagnosis is based on the active identification of NAFLD-associated metabolic abnormalities.
Sarcopenia is defined as an age-related decline of skeletal muscle function and strength. It is also associated with a loss of muscle mass.
Skeletal muscle is known to impact fatty liver oxidation and determines insulin-mediated glucose metabolism throughout the entire body. Due to this, the existence of an independent association between sarcopenia and NAFLD has been suggested. However, only a limited number of studies have explored the link between sarcopenia and MAFLD.
This study aimed to examine the association between low muscle mass, one of sarcopenia’s major components, and MAFLD in an asymptomatic health check-up population. This population was divided into four subgroups: MAFLD with diabetes mellitus (DM), MAFLD with metabolic dysfunction (2 or more metabolic abnormalities without DM), overweight MAFLD, and no MAFLD.
The presence of MAFLD was significantly and positively associated with low muscle mass, even after adjusting for confounding factors. A significant relationship between increased liver stiffness and low muscle mass was also reported.
The diabetic MAFLD subgroup possessed the highest risk of low muscle mass, followed by the MAFLD with metabolic dysfunction subgroup. These findings underscore the importance of metabolic abnormalities in determining sarcopenia risk for MAFLD patients and should be acknowledged by clinicians during MAFLD management.