AIM: We aimed to evaluate the association between serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, within the reference range, and the histological severity of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and whether this association was modulated by the patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3) rs738409 polymorphism.MATERIALS AND METHODS: We enrolled 327 euthyroid individuals with biopsy-proven NAFLD, who were subdivided into two groups, i.e., a 'strict-normal' TSH group (TSH level 0.4 to 2.5mIU/L; n=283) and a 'high-normal' TSH group (TSH level 2.5 to 5.3mIU/L with normal thyroid hormones; n=44). Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the association between TSH status and presence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) after stratifying subjects by PNPLA3 genotypes.RESULTS: Compared to strict-normal TSH group, patients with high-normal TSH levels were younger and had a greater prevalence of NASH and higher histologic NAFLD activity score. After stratifying by PNPLA3 genotypes, the significant association between high-normal TSH levels and presence of NASH was restricted only to carriers of the PNPLA3 G risk allele and remained significant even after adjustment for potential confounding factors (adjusted-odds ratio: 3.279; 95% CI: 1.298-8.284; P=0.012).CONCLUSION: In euthyroid individuals with biopsy-proven NAFLD, we found a significant association between high-normal TSH levels and NASH. After stratifying by PNPLA3 rs738409 genotypes, this association was observed only among carriers of the PNPLA3 G risk allele.
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