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ALT can be used a marker for NAFLD severity in pediatric patients.
New research is looking at the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the pediatric population.
The 660 pediatric patient study, which is part of the ongoing TARGET-NASH cohort, shows rates of the liver disease is increasing after evaluating alanine aminotransferase (ALT).
The results show patients as young as 2 are developing NAFLD, oftentimes coinciding with obesity as well. In the analysis, the investigators used ALT as a marker of NAFLD severity.
In an interview with HCPLive®, Miriam Vos, MD, MSPH, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Emory University, and physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, said the most surprising part of the study was the group of patients greater than 250 U/L ALT had an eight-fold greater risk of developing cirrhosis.
However, fortunately cirrhosis rates are generally low in pediatric patients with NAFLD.
“To know that those kids are much more likely to have these very high ALTs I think is helpful,” Vos said.
She said this information is informative in deciding when to do a liver biopsy and is helpful for researching the pathophysiology of the disease.
The data is part of the ongoing TARGET-NASH study, an observational study of participants with NAFLD and/or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in usual clinical practice and is part of a series of Target studies targeted several diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
Vos said in the future she’d like to see more research into longitudinal biomarkers and non-invasive diagnostic testing for NAFLD to monitor changes in the pediatric form of the disease over time.