Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is a potentially reversible condition but is also associated with progressive fibrosis and cirrhosis. Women with prior gestational diabetes mellitus (pGDM) have a higher risk for NAFLD.
One hundred women without diabetes who had pGDM (median [interquartile range]: age 38.6 [6.4] years; BMI 31.0 [6.2] kg/m2) and 11 healthy control subjects without NAFLD (age 37.9 [7.8] years; BMI 28.1 [0.8] kg/m2) underwent a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), DXA whole-body scan, and ultrasonic evaluation of hepatic steatosis.
Twenty-four (24%) women with pGDM had NAFLD on the basis of the ultrasound scan. None had cirrhosis. Women with NAFLD had a higher BMI (P = 0.0002) and waist circumference (P = 0.0003), increased insulin resistance (P = 0.0004), and delayed suppression of glucagon after the OGTT (P < 0.0001), but NAFLD was not associated with the degree of glucose intolerance (P = 0.2196). Visceral fat mass differed among the three groups, with the NAFLD group having the highest amount of fat and the control subjects the lowest (P = 0.0003). By logistic regression analysis, insulin resistance (P = 0.0057) and waist circumference (P = 0.0109) were independently associated with NAFLD.
NAFLD was prevalent in this cohort of relatively young and nonseverely obese women with pGDM who are considered healthy apart from their increased risk for diabetes. Insulin resistance and a larger waist circumference were independently associated with the presence of NAFLD, whereas glucose intolerance was not.