Steatosis may be present in at least half of liver transplant recipients, and the prevalence increases significantly over time, according to data from a retrospective study of 548 adult patients.

Although steatosis is common after transplantation, the prevalence, risk factors, and impact on patient survival has not been well studied, wrote Dr. Irena Hejlova of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, Czech Republic, and her colleagues.

“Our study was the first to document that the prevalence of steatosis in LT [liver transplant] recipients may be far higher than previously reported,” they said.

The researchers reviewed liver biopsies and patient survival data and found steatosis in 309 (56%) of the patients, including 93 (17%) with significant steatosis (defined as greater than 33%). Pretransplant factors associated with significant steatosis included cirrhosis caused by alcohol consumption as well as a high body mass index. Post-transplant risk factors associated with increased risk of significant steatosis included increased body mass index, increased serum triglycerides, alcohol consumption, and type 2 diabetes. However, “Although patients transplanted for alcoholic cirrhosis are at an increased risk, the vast majority of post-transplant steatosis is nonalcohol-related,” the researchers noted.

The overall prevalence of steatosis increased from 30% at 1 year after transplant to 48% at 10 years after transplant. Post-transplant steatosis was not associated with worse patient survival in the short term, but the long-term survival of patients with significant steatosis tended to be worse.

Read the full study here (Liver Transpl. 2016 Apr 5. doi: 10.1002/lt.24393 ).