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22.06.2019 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2019 Open Access

Endocrine 2/2019

Copeptin relates to a fatty liver and measures of obesity in a South African population with mixed ethnicities

Endocrine > Ausgabe 2/2019
Sofia Enhörning, Léone Malan
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Elevated copeptin, a vasopressin marker, is linked to metabolic disease, and obese rats with low-vasopressin concentration had a decreased risk of liver steatosis. We here investigated the association between copeptin and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and possible differences in copeptin concentration between ethnicities.


In this cross-sectional study of 361 South Africans (n = 172 African black, 189 = Caucasian) with a mean age of 45 years and 45% men, plasma copeptin was measured and associated with NAFLD according to a validated fatty liver index accounting for measures of BMI, waist, triglycerides, and gamma-glutamyltransferase.


There was no significant difference in copeptin concentrations between ethnicities after age and gender adjustment (p = 0.24). Increasing copeptin tertile levels were significantly associated with obesity, overweight, and abdominal obesity, respectively, after multivariate adjustment for age, gender, ethnicity, and high HOMA-IR (p = 0.02 for all). Individuals in the second and third copeptin tertile had an increased odds (95% CI) of NAFLD of 1.77 (1.04–3.02) and 2.97 (1.74–5.06), respectively, compared to the bottom tertile (p < 0.001). The association between increasing copeptin tertile and NAFLD remained significant after adjustment for age, gender, ethnicity, high HOMA-IR, self-reported current alcohol intake, and statin treatment (p = 0.01).


Elevated plasma copeptin is independently associated with NAFLD in a population with mixed ethnicities, pointing at the pharmacologically modifiable vasopressin system as a new mechanism behind NAFLD.

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