Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) survivors have an increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease. We aimed to assess the presence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in childhood ALL and if it is associated with early cardiovascular dysfunction.
In total, 53 childhood ALL survivors and 34 controls underwent auxological evaluation, biochemical assay, liver, heart and vascular ultrasound study.
NAFLD was more frequent in ALL patients than in controls (39.6% vs 11.7%, P < 0.01). Patients with NAFLD were more obese and insulin resistant than patients without NAFLD. Flow-mediated dilatation and interventricular septum were lower in the ALL group than those in the control group (P < 0.001 for both). The patients with NAFLD showed lower left ventricular ejection fraction than those without NAFLD (P = 0.011). In ALL survivors, BMI-SDS and subcutaneous fat were the strongest predictors of NAFLD, whereas preperitoneal adipose tissue and C-reactive protein were the strongest predictors of left ventricular ejection fraction.
Childhood ALL survivors had higher prevalence of NAFLD than healthy controls, which is associated with early left ventricular impairment. In the case of fatty liver, a comprehensive heart evaluation is mandatory. We strongly recommend to prevent visceral adiposity in ALL survivors, to search for metabolic syndrome or its components and to reinforce the need of intervention on diet and lifestyle during the follow-up of these patients.