Liver international : official journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver

Fetuin-A negatively correlates with liver and vascular fibrosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease subjects.

PMID 25627311


Fetuin-A (α2HS-glycoprotein), a liver secretory glycoprotein, is known as a transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 signalling inhibitor. Serum fetuin-A concentration is associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cardiovascular disease. However, the usefulness of serum fetuin-A as a predictive fibrosis biomarker in NAFLD patients remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the relationship between circulating fetuin-A levels and fibrosis-related markers [platelet count, NAFLD fibrosis score and carotid intima media thickness (IMT)] in subjects with NAFLD. A total of 295 subjects (male, 164; female, 131) who received medical health check-ups were enrolled in this study. NAFLD was diagnosed using abdominal ultrasonography. Serum fetuin-A was measured by ELISA. IMT was assessed using a high-resolution ultrasound scanner. Using recombinant human fetuin-A, we investigated the effects of fetuin-A on hepatic stellate cells, which play a pivotal role in the process of hepatic fibrosis. Serum fetuin-A concentration was significantly correlated with platelet count (R = 0.19, P < 0.01), NAFLD fibrosis score (R = -0.25, P < 0.01) and mean IMT (R = -0.22, P < 0.01). Multivariate analyses revealed that the fetuin-A concentration is a significant and independent determinant of platelet count, NAFLD fibrosis score and mean IMT. Recombinant fetuin-A suppressed TGF-β1 signalling and fibrosis-related gene expression and increased the expression of TGF-β1 pseudoreceptor bone morphogenic protein and activin membrane-bound inhibitor (BAMBI). Serum fetuin-A level is associated with liver/vessel fibrosis-related markers in NAFLD patients. Circulating fetuin-A could be a useful serum biomarker for predicting liver and vascular fibrosis progression in NAFLD patients.