BACKGROUND & AIMS: Factors that affect outcomes of patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-related cirrhosis are unclear. We studied associations of type 2 diabetes, levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and use of antidiabetic medications with survival and liver-related events in patients with NASH and compensated cirrhosis.
METHODS: We collected data from 299 patients with biopsy-proven NASH with Child-Pugh A cirrhosis from tertiary hospitals in Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, and Cuba, from April 1995 through December 2016. We obtained information on the presence of type 2 diabetes, level of HbA1c, and use of antidiabetic medications. Cox proportional and competing risk models were used to estimate and compare rates of transplant-free survival, hepatic decompensation, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
RESULTS: A total of 212 patients had type 2 diabetes at baseline and 8 of 87 patients developed diabetes during a median follow-up time of 5.1 years (range, 0.5-10.0 y). A lower proportion of patients with diabetes survived the entire follow-up period (38%) than of patients with no diabetes (81%) (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 4.23; 95% CI, 1.93-9.29). Higher proportions of patients with diabetes also had hepatic decompensation (51% vs 26% of patients with no diabetes; aHR, 2.03; 95% CI, 1.005-4.11) and HCC (25% vs 7% of patients with no diabetes; aHR, 5.42; 95% CI, 1.74-16.80). Averaged annual HbA1c levels over time were not associated with outcomes. Metformin use over time was associated with a significant reduction in risk of death or liver transplantation (aHR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.26-0.45), hepatic decompensation (aHR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.74-0.97), and HCC (aHR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.69-0.96). Metformin significantly reduced the risk of hepatic decompensation and HCC only in subjects with HbA1c levels greater than 7.0% (aHR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95-0.99 and aHR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.43-0.94, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: In an international cohort of patients with biopsy-proven NASH and Child-Pugh A cirrhosis, type 2 diabetes increased the risk of death and liver-related outcomes, including HCC. Patients who took metformin had higher rates of survival and lower rates of decompensation and HCC.