Epidemiological literature regarding the effect of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) remains inconsistent. Furthermore, it remains debatable whether NAFLD is associated with PCOS as a consequence of shared risk factors or whether PCOS contributes to NAFLD in an independent fashion. Therefore, this meta-analysis was conducted.
This meta-analysis was conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). Relevant studies published before May 2017 were identified and retrieved from PubMed and Web of Science databases. The data were extracted, and the pooled odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated.
A total of 17 studies were included into the present analysis. Compared to the control group, the risk of NAFLD in the PCOS group was higher (OR = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.95–2.60). When stratified by BMI and geographic location, the results indicated that the frequency of NAFLD risk was significantly higher in obese subjects (OR = 3.01, 95% CI = 1.88–4.82), non-obese subjects (OR = 2.07, 95% CI = 1.12–3.85), subjects from Europe (OR = 2.00, 95% CI = 1.58–2.52), subjects from the Asia-Pacific Region, (OR = 2.32, 95% CI = 1.89–2.84) and subjects from America (OR = 2.96, 95% CI = 1.93–4.55). In addition, PCOS patients with hyperandrogenism (HA) had a significantly higher risk of NAFLD, compared with controls (OR = 3.31, 95% CI = 2.58–4.24). However, there was no association between PCOS patients without HA and higher risk of NAFLD (OR = 1.46; 95% CI =0.55–3.87). The results of this meta-analysis should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of observational studies and possible confounding factors.
The meta-analysis results suggest that PCOS is significantly associated with high risk of NAFLD. Although this association was independent of obesity and geographic region, it might be correlated with HA.