Association between circulating bile acid alterations and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis independent of obesity and diabetes mellitus

the Innovative Target Exploration of NAFLD (ITEN) consortium

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14 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: Bile acid (BA) dysregulation is related to not only metabolic diseases but also nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We investigated whether circulating BA levels are altered according to the histological severity of NAFLD independent of metabolic derangements. Methods: Global metabolic profiling and targeted BA analysis using sera collected from biopsy-proven no-NAFLD (n = 67), nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) (n = 99), and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH, n = 75) subjects were performed sequentially. Circulating metabolome analysis integrated with the hepatic transcriptome was performed to elucidate the mechanistic basis of altered circulating BA profiles after stratification by obesity (body mass index ≤ 25 kg/m2). Circulating BA alterations were also validated in an independent validation cohort (29 no-NAFLD, 70 NAFL and 37 NASH). Results: Global profiling analysis showed that BA was the metabolite significantly altered in NASH compared to NAFL. Targeted BA analysis demonstrated that glyco-/tauro-conjugated primary BAs were commonly increased in nonobese and obese NASH, while unconjugated primary BAs increased only in nonobese NASH. These characteristic primary BA level changes were maintained even after stratification according to diabetes status and were replicated in the independent validation cohort. Compared to nonobese NAFL patients, nonobese NASH patients exhibited upregulated hepatic expression of CYP8B1. Conclusions: BA metabolism is dysregulated as the histological severity of NAFLD worsens, independent of obesity and diabetes status; dysregulation is more prominent in nonobese NAFLD patients. Metabolome-driven omics approach provides new insight into our understanding of altered BA metabolism associated with individual phenotypes of NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2892-2902
Number of pages11
JournalLiver International
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • aqueous metabolites
  • bile acid
  • fibrosis
  • nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • nonobese


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