Thiazolidinediones and Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists and the Risk of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Cohort Study

Judith van Dalem, Johanna H. M. Driessen, Andrea M. Burden, Coen D. A. Stehouwer, Olaf H. Klungel, Frank de Vries*, Martijn C. G. J. Brouwers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and Aims Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists are potential pharmacological treatment options for patients at risk of NAFLD. Therefore, we examined the association between the risk of NAFLD and the use of TZDs and GLP-1 receptor agonists compared with the use of sulfonylureas (SUs) and insulins. Additionally, we calculated the incidence of HCC in users of TZDs and GLP-1 receptor agonists. Approach and Results We conducted a population-based cohort study using primary care data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink database (2007-2018). All patients aged >= 18 with a prescription of an oral glucose-lowering agent or GLP-1 receptor agonist were included. The first prescription defined the start of follow-up. The primary outcome was a new diagnosis of NAFLD. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs of the primary outcome. Incidence rates of HCC were determined per 1,000 person-years for all exposures. The study identified 207,367 adults with a prescription for a glucose-lowering agent. The risk of NAFLD was lower in patients prescribed a TZD than in those prescribed an SU (adjusted HR [aHR], 0.32; 95% CI, 0.20-0.51). No difference in risk of NAFLD was observed comparing GLP-1 receptor agonist use with insulin use (aHR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.91-1.63). Conclusions Results of our study endorse the use of TZDs for selected patients at risk of NAFLD but do not support previous findings regarding the beneficial effect of GLP-1 receptor agonists. The low number of events in several subgroups may affect the generalizability of the current findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2467-2477
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Early online date22 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021



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