Steatosis is a common histopathological feature of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and has been associated with severity of liver disease. Recently, the rs738409 I148M patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3) polymorphism has been demonstrated to influence steatosis susceptibility and fibrosis progression in patients with different liver diseases, but no data are yet available for CHB. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether PNPLA3 I148M influences steatosis susceptibility in a large series of patients with CHB. We enrolled 235 treatment-naïve CHB patients consecutively examined by percutaneous liver biopsy. In ≥2-cm-long liver tissue cores, steatosis and fibrosis were staged by Kleiner and METAVIR scores, respectively. The I148M polymorphism was determined by Taqman assays. Steatosis was present in 146 (62%) patients, of whom 24 (10%) had severe (>33% of hepatocytes) steatosis. Steatosis was independently associated with age (odds ratio [OR]: 2.67; confidence interval [CI]: 1.50-4.92; for age ≥50 years), body mass index (BMI; OR, 2.84; CI, 1.30-6.76; for BMI ≥27.5 kg/m2), diabetes or impaired fasting glucose (OR, 4.45; CI, 1.10-30.0), and PNPLA3 148M allele (OR, 1.62; CI, 1.00-7.00; for each 148M allele). Independent predictors of severe steatosis were BMI (OR, 3.60; CI, 1.39-9.22; for BMI ≥27.5 kg/m2) and PNPLA3 148M allele (OR, 6.03; CI, 1.23-5.0; for each 148M allele). PNPLA3 148M alleles were associated with a progressive increase in severe steatosis in patients with acquired cofactors, such severe overweight and a history of alcohol intake (P=0.005). Conclusion: In CHB patients, the PNPLA3 I148M polymorphism influences susceptibility to steatosis and, in particular, when associated with severe overweight and alcohol intake, severe steatosis.
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