Introduction: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common liver diseases worldwide. Lipid accumulation in the liver triggers inflammation and leads to NAFLD. Prolonged inflammation will worsen the disease progression. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-12, plays a role in the inflammatory process. This study aimed to determine the association between IL-12 and NAFLD severity.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between January and July 2019 in Haji Adam Malik Hospital Medan, Indonesia. Subjects were patients aged 18 years or older diagnosed with NAFLD based on ultrasound. Exclusion criteria were excessive alcohol consumption, other primary liver diseases, malignancies, and cardio-metabolic disturbances. Serum IL-12 level was determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method. The severity of NAFLD was assessed using the BARD score and NAFLD fibrosis score.
Results: A total of 100 subjects were enrolled with male predominant. The mean age of subjects was 54.97 ± 8.85 years, and the most frequent comorbidity was obesity. Most subjects had mild to moderate disease progression. Serum IL-12 level was higher in more severe NAFLD based on ultrasound grading (P < 0.001), BARD score (P = 0.003), and NAFLD fibrosis score (P = 0.005). A positive correlation was observed between serum IL-12 level and BARD score (P < 0.001) with sufficient accuracy (AUC = 0.691, P = 0.014).
Conclusion: Serum IL-12 level was associated with the severity of NAFLD. Higher serum IL-12 level was observed in more severe NAFLD progression.