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Title: Genomic studies in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Author: Liu, Yang-Lin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 4828
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a spectrum that spans simple steatosis, through steatohepatitis (NASH) to fibrosis and ultimately cirrhosis. NAFLD is characterised by substantial inter-patient variation in rate of progression and disease outcome: whilst up to 25% of the general population are at risk of progressive disease, only a minority experience associated liver-related morbidity. Inter-patient genetic variation and environment determine severity and progression of NAFLD. This thesis reports a series of studies examining the association of genetic variations in two genes patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3, rs738409 c.444 C > G, p.I148M) and transmembrane 6 superfamily member 2, (TM6SF2, rs58542926 c.449 C > T, p.E167K) with severity of NAFLD and risk of NAFLD-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Addressing first the role of PNPLA3, I demonstrate that the rs738409 variant is associated with steatosis, steatohepatitis and fibrosis in the largest histologically characterised NAFLD cohort of European-Caucasian descent (n=1,005) studied to date. Subsequently, adopting a case-control analyses in a cohort of 100 consecutive Northern European Caucasian patients with NAFLD-associated HCC arising and a cohort of patients with histologically characterised NAFLD, I demonstrate that carriage of the rs738409 minor (G) allele is significantly associated with increased risk of developing NAFLD-associated HCC, independent of potential confounding factors including gender, age at diagnosis, presence of advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis, T2DM and BMI. During my studies, a genome-wide association study identified a SNP in TM6SF2 as a modifier of hepatic triglyceride accumulation measured by MR Spectroscopy. It was therefore pertinent to determine whether this variant also affected risk of steatohepatitis or fibrosis in NAFLD. Using the aforementioned cohorts, I demonstrate for the first time that, in addition to its association with steatosis, the rs58542926 SNP is significantly associated with stage of fibrosis in NAFLD. In contrast to PNPLA3 however, no association with NAFLD-HCC was found. In conclusion, the current thesis confirms the association of PNPLA3 with NAFLD severity and provides new evidence of its association with HCC risk. In addition, itdemonstrates for the first time that TM6SF2 is associated with NAFLD-fibrosis severity. These studies provide important new insights into NAFLD pathogenesis and mandate further functional study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available