Objective Previous studies have shown that leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2), a recently discovered hepatokine, is associated with the inflammatory response and insulin resistance. We examined circulating plasma LECT2 levels in the subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or metabolic syndrome. Methods We analyzed plasma LECT2 levels from the subjects of age- and sex-matched 320 adults with or without NAFLD who completed a health check-up at the Health Promotion Center of Korea University Guro Hospital. Results Individuals with NAFLD showed significantly higher LECT2 levels (31.2 [20.9, 41.5] vs. 24.5[16.3, 32.7] ng/ml, P <0.001) as well as components of MetS compared to those without NAFLD. Furthermore, circulating LECT2 concentrations were greater in subjects with MetS (32.6 [17.8, 45.0] vs. 27.0 [18.7, 33.7] ng/ml, P = 0.016) and were associated with anthropometric measures of obesity, lipid profiles, high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and liver aminotransferase levels. However, there was no significant relationship between LECT2 levels and indicators of subclinical atherosclerosis, such as carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and brachial ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV). Multivariate analysis demonstrated a progressively increasing trend of odds ratios for NAFLD according to quartiles of LECT2 levels after adjusting for risk factors, although the relationship was attenuated after further adjustment for waist circumference and lipid levels. Conclusion Circulating LECT2 concentrations were increased in individuals with NAFLD and those with MetS, but not in those with atherosclerosis. The relationship between LECT2 and both NAFLD and MetS might be mediated by its association with abdominal obesity and lipid metabolism. Trial registration Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01594710.
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