Background. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) increases the risk of atherosclerosis but this risk may dier between metabolically- vs. genetically-driven NAFLD. High-density lipoprotein (HDL)-mediated cholesterol efflux (CEC) and plasma loading capacity (CLC) are key factors in atherogenesis. Aims. To test whether CEC and CLC dier between metabolically- vs. genetically-determined NAFLD. Methods: CEC and CLC were measured in 19 patients with metabolic NAFLD and wild-type PNPLA3 genotype (Group M), 10 patients with genetic NAFLD carrying M148M PNPLA3 genotype (Group G), and 10 controls PNPLA3 wild-types and without NAFLD. CEC and CLC were measured ex vivo by isotopic and fluorimetric techniques using cellular models. Results: Compared with Group G, Group M showed reduced total CEC (18.6%; p < 0.001) as well as that mediated by cholesterol transporters (25.3% ABCA1; 16.3% ABCG1; 14.8% aqueous dffusion; all p < 0.04). No difference in CEC was found between Group G and controls. The presence of metabolic syndrome further impaired ABCG1-mediated CEC in Group M. Group M had higher plasma-induced CLC than Group G and controls (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Metabolically-, but not genetically-, driven NAFLD associates with dysfunctional HDL-meditated CEC and abnormal CLC. These data suggest that the mechanisms of anti-atherogenic protection in metabolic NAFLD are impaired.
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