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      Low Liver Density Is Linked to Cardiovascular Comorbidity in COPD: An ECLIPSE Cohort Analysis

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          Fatty liver disease is associated with cardiometabolic disorders and represents a potential key comorbidity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Some intermediary mechanisms of fatty liver disease (including its histological component steatosis) include tissue hypoxia, low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress that are key features of COPD. Despite these shared physiological pathways, the effect of COPD on the prevalence of hepatic steatosis, and the association between hepatic steatosis and comorbidities in this population remain unclear. Liver density measured by computed tomography (CT)-scan is a non-invasive surrogate of fat infiltration, with lower liver densities reflecting more fat infiltration and a liver density of 40 Hounsfield Units (HU) corresponding to a severe 30% fat infiltration.

          Patients and Methods

          We took advantage of the international cohort ECLIPSE in which non-enhanced chest CT-scans were obtained in 1554 patients with COPD and 387 healthy controls to analyse the liver density at T12-L1.


          The distribution of liver density was similar and the prevalence of severe steatosis (density<40 HU) was not different (4.7% vs 5.2%, p=0.7) between COPD and controls. In patients with COPD, the lowest liver density quartile was associated, after age and sex adjustment, with coronary artery disease (OR a=1.59, 95% CI 1.12 to 2.24) and stroke (OR a=2.20, 95% CI 1.07 to 4.50), in comparison with the highest liver density quartile.


          The present data indicate that a low liver density emerged as a predictor of cardiovascular comorbidities in the COPD population. However, the distribution of liver density and the prevalence of severe steatosis were similar in patients with COPD and control subjects.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Mortality in COPD: Role of comorbidities.

          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents an increasing burden throughout the world. COPD-related mortality is probably underestimated because of the difficulties associated with identifying the precise cause of death. Respiratory failure is considered the major cause of death in advanced COPD. Comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer are also major causes and, in mild-to-moderate COPD, are the leading causes of mortality. The links between COPD and these conditions are not fully understood. However, a link through the inflammation pathway has been suggested, as persistent low-grade pulmonary and systemic inflammation, both known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer, are present in COPD independent of cigarette smoking. Lung-specific measurements, such as forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)), predict mortality in COPD and in the general population. However, composite tools, such as health-status measurements (e.g. St George's Respiratory Questionnaire) and the BODE index, which incorporates Body mass index, lung function (airflow Obstruction), Dyspnoea and Exercise capacity, predict mortality better than FEV(1) alone. These multidimensional tools may be more valuable because, unlike predictive approaches based on single parameters, they can reflect the range of comorbidities and the complexity of underlying mechanisms associated with COPD. The current paper reviews the role of comorbidities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality, the putative underlying pathogenic link between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and comorbid conditions (i.e. inflammation), and the tools used to predict chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality.
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            Limitations of liver biopsy and non-invasive diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

            It is estimated that 30% of the adult population in Japan is affected by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Fatty changes of the liver are generally diagnosed using imaging methods such as abdominal ultrasonography (US) and computed tomography (CT), but the sensitivity of these imaging techniques is low in cases of mild steatosis. Alanine aminotransferase levels may be normal in some of these patients, warranting the necessity to establish a set of parameters useful for detecting NAFLD, and the more severe form of the disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Although liver biopsy is currently the gold standard for diagnosing progressive NASH, it has many drawbacks, such as sampling error, cost, and risk of complications. Furthermore, it is not realistic to perform liver biopsies on all NAFLD patients. Diagnosis of NASH using various biomarkers, scoring systems and imaging methods, such as elastography, has recently been attempted. The NAFIC score, calculated from the levels of ferritin, fasting insulin, and type IV collagen 7S, is useful for the diagnosis of NASH, while the NAFLD fibrosis score and the FIB-4 index are useful for excluding NASH in cases of advanced fibrosis. This article reviews the limitations and merits of liver biopsy and noninvasive diagnostic tests in the diagnosis of NAFLD/NASH.
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              Macrovesicular hepatic steatosis in living liver donors: use of CT for quantitative and qualitative assessment.

              To determine prospectively the diagnostic performance of unenhanced computed tomography (CT) in the assessment of macrovesicular steatosis in potential donors for living donor liver transplantation by using same-day biopsy as a reference standard. Institutional review board approval and informed consent were obtained. A total of 154 candidates, including 104 men (mean age, 30.2 years +/- 10.3 [standard deviation]) and 50 women (mean age, 31.8 years +/- 11.2), underwent same-day unenhanced CT and ultrasonography-guided liver biopsy. Histologic degree of macrovesicular steatosis was determined. Three liver attenuation indices were derived: liver-to-spleen attenuation ratio (CT(L)(/S)), difference between hepatic and splenic attenuation (CT(L)(-S)), and blood-free hepatic parenchymal attenuation (CT(LP)). Regression equations were used to quantitatively estimate the degree of macrovesicular steatosis. Limits of agreement between estimated macrovesicular steatosis and the reference standard were calculated. Receiver operating characteristic analyses were used to determine the performance of each index for qualitative diagnosis of macrovesicular steatosis of 30% or greater. The cutoff value that provided a balance between sensitivity and specificity and the highest cutoff value that yielded 100% specificity were determined. Limits of agreement were -14% to 14% for CT(L)(/S) and CT(L)(-S) and -13% to 13% for CT(LP). Performance in diagnosing macrovesicular steatosis of 30% or greater was not significantly different among indices (P > .05). Cutoff values of 0.9, -7, and 58 were determined for CT(L)(/S), CT(L)(-S), and CT(LP), respectively, and provided a balance between sensitivity and specificity. Cutoff values of 0.8, -9, and 42 were determined for CT(L)(/S), CT(L)(-S), and CT(LP), respectively, and yielded 100% specificity for all indices, with corresponding sensitivities of 82%, 82%, and 73% for CT(L)(/S), CT(L)(-S), and CT(LP), respectively. Diagnostic performance of unenhanced CT for quantitative assessment of macrovesicular steatosis is not clinically acceptable. Unenhanced CT, however, provides high performance in qualitative diagnosis of macrovesicular steatosis of 30% or greater.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                31 December 2019
                : 14
                : 3053-3061
                [1 ]Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec-Université Laval , Québec, Canada
                [2 ]Hypoxia Pathophysiology Laboratory INSERM U1042, Grenoble Alpes University Hospital , Grenoble, France
                [3 ]Radiology, University of British Columbia , Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Damien Viglino Centre de Recherche Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec , 2725 Chemin Sainte-Foy, Québec, QCG1V 4G5, CanadaTel +1 418 656 8711 Email

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2019 Viglino et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, References: 48, Pages: 9
                The ECLIPSE study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). GSK had no role in the design of the study, analysis, interpretation of results, writing of the article or approval of the article. DV was a recipient of research fellowship grants from the Fonds de la Recherche Québec – Santé, from Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec-Université Laval and from the Agir pour les maladies Chroniques foundation. J-PD is the scientific director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk, which is based at the Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval. FM holds a GSK/Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Research Chair on COPD at Université Laval.
                Original Research


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