ABSTRACT. Background and aims: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and metabolic syndrome (MS) are well-recognized complications of obesity. This study was designed to evaluate the role of the UCP1 –3826 A>G polymorphism, adiponectin levels, leptin/adiponectin ratio (L/A), and main biochemical parameters in 102 unrelated severely obese adults [61 females and 41 males, median body mass index (BMI) = 47.8 kg/m2] with NAFLD, with (MS+) or without MS (MS–) from Southern Italy. Subject and methods: The UCP1 polymorphism was tested by the TaqMan method, main biochemical parameters by routinary methods, adiponectin, and leptin serum levels by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. MS was diagnosed according to the American Heart Association criteria, liver steatosis was detected by ultrasound. Results: MS was present in 53% male and 66% female obese patients. Only total cholesterol (p=0.04 males and p=0.002 females) and L/A ratio (p=0.03 males) differed between MS+ and MS– obese patients. At multivariate analysis, severe liver steatosis was significantly associated with: UCP1 (AG+GG) genotypes [odds ratio-confidence interval (OR-CI): 4.25; 1.12-16.13], MS (OR-CI: 8.47; 1.78-40.25), low adiponectin levels (OR-CI: 0.92; 0.87-0.98), high alanine aminotransferase levels (OR-CI: 1.03; 1.00-1.06), age (ORCI: 1.08; 1.00-1.15), and male gender (OR-CI: 10.78; 1.61- 71.96). Conclusion: In addition to traditional factors, total cholesterol and L/A ratio appear to contribute to MS characterization in severe obesity. Furthermore, the UCP1 (AG+GG) genotypes and low adiponectin levels could predispose to a more severe liver steatosis independently of MS presence. Based on our data, polymorphic UCP1 (AG+GG) obese patients with low adiponectin levels appear to be high-risk subjects for worsening of liver steatosis, a NAFLD, possibly requiring a second-step evaluation by liver biopsy
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