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Is there an association between fatty liver and cognitive function? A systematic review

BMC Geriatr 2022 ;22(1):47
Is there an association between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cognitive function? A systematic review
Elena S George 1, Surbhi Sood 2, Robin M Daly 2, Sze-Yen Tan 2

Abstract
Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is represented as the most common liver disease worldwide. NAFLD is associated with metabolic risk factors underpinned by insulin resistance, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, leading to extrahepatic changes in central nervous diseases such as cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The aim of the review is to explore the association between NAFLD and cognitive function.
Methods: Using the PRISMA guidelines, a systematic electronic literature search was conducted in four databases: MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Embase and CINAHL from inception until March 2021. Neuropsychological tests utilised within each study were grouped into relevant cognitive domains including ‘general cognition’, ‘reasoning’, ‘mental speed, attention and psychomotor speed’, ‘memory and learning’, ‘language’, ‘visuospatial perception’ and ‘ideas, abstraction, figural creations and mental flexibility’.
Results: Eleven observational studies that involved 7978 participants with a mean age of 51 years were included. Those with NAFLD had poor cognitive performance in three cognitive domains, including ‘general cognition’, ‘mental speed, attention and psychomotor speed’, and ‘ideas, abstraction, figural creations and mental flexibility’.

Conclusion: The observed results from the 11 included studies showed that NAFLD was associated with lower cognitive performance across several domains. However, studies conducted to date are limited to observational designs and are heterogeneous with varying diagnostic tools used to assess cognitive function.

Trial registration: PROSPERO Registration: CRD42020161640 .
Keywords: Cirrhosis; Cognition; Cognitive function; Cognitive impairment; NAFLD; NASH.

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