Date of Conferral





Public Health


Angela Prehn


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become one of the most common hepatic diseases worldwide, making the diagnosis and management of NAFLD an emerging public health issue. Theories associated with NAFLD surmise that inflammation may be the root cause, along with the complex interplay of other chronic conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is unknown if other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), along with the use of methotrexate (MTX), might confer increased risk for NAFLD. Longitudinal data collected from a retrospective cohort of 17,481 adult RA patients in the United States were used to determine the incidence and factors associated with the development of NAFLD using a noninvasive tool (Fibrosis-4 score). Results of the Kaplan Meier analysis showed that 31% of this cohort developed NAFLD, in about 7 years from baseline, with most having mild to moderate disease and only 1.4% with advanced disease. RA patients also had a prevalence of chronic conditions associated with NAFLD, as seen in the general population. In the Cox proportional hazard multivariate analysis, age (middle and elderly), hypertension, CVD, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, exercise, use of MTX, and non-MTX antirheumatic drugs were independent predictors for the development of NAFLD. This research could improve early diagnosis of NAFLD using a novel noninvasive tool. Increase awareness of the prevalence and causes of NALFD inform clinical practice and management of the disease and influence policy about this chronic condition in patients with RA.