To estimate and compare associations of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and γ-glutamyltransferase (GGT) with incident diabetes.
ALT and GGT were studied as determinants of diabetes in the British Women's Heart and Health Study, a cohort of 4,286 women 60–79 years old (median follow-up 7.3 years). A systematic review and a meta-analysis of 21 prospective, population-based studies of ultrasonography, which diagnosed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), ALT, and GGT as determinants of diabetes, were conducted, and associations of ALT and GGT with diabetes were compared.
Ultrasonography-diagnosed NAFLD was associated with more than a doubling in the risk of incident diabetes (three studies). ALT and GGT both predicted diabetes. The fully adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for diabetes per increase in one unit of logged ALT was 1.83 (95% CI 1.57–2.14, I 2 = 8%) and for GGT was 1.92 (1.66–2.21, I 2 = 55%). To directly compare ALT and GGT as determinants of diabetes, the fully adjusted risk of diabetes in the top versus bottom fourth of the ALT and GGT distributions was estimated using data from studies that included results for both markers. For ALT, the HR was 2.02 (1.59–2.58, I 2 = 27%), and for GGT the HR was 2.94 (1.98–3.88, I 2 = 20%), suggesting that GGT may be a better predictor ( P = 0.05).