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Lena-Maria Levin, Henry Völzke, Markus M Lerch, Jens-Peter Kühn, Matthias Nauck, Nele Friedrich and Stephanie Zylla

Objective

Chemerin and adiponectin are adipokines assumed to be involved in the development of metabolic syndrome-related phenotypes like hepatic steatosis. We aimed to evaluate the associations of circulating chemerin and adiponectin concentrations with liver enzymes, liver fat content, and hepatic steatosis in the general population.

Methods

Data of 3951 subjects from the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP-TREND) were used. Hepatic steatosis was assumed when either a hyperechogenic liver (assessed via ultrasound) or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-quantified liver fat content >5% was present. Adjusted sex-specific quantile and logistic regression models were applied to analyze the associations of chemerin and adiponectin with liver enzymes, liver fat content and hepatic steatosis.

Results

The observed associations of chemerin and adiponectin with liver enzymes were very divergent depending on sex, fasting status and the specific enzyme. More consistent results were seen in the analyses of these adipokines in relation to MRI-quantified liver fat content. Here, we observed inverse associations to adiponectin in both sexes as well as a positive (men) or U-shaped (women) association to chemerin. Similarly, the MRI-based definition of hepatic steatosis revealed strongly consistent results: in both sexes, high chemerin concentrations were associated with higher odds of hepatic steatosis, whereas high adiponectin concentrations were associated with lower odds.

Conclusion

Our results suggest a role of these adipokines in the pathogenesis of hepatic steatosis independent of metabolic or inflammatory disorders. However, experimental studies are needed to further clarify the underlying mechanisms and the inter-play between adipokine concentrations and hepatic steatosis.