INTRODUCTION: This study explored the relationship between patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 gene (PNPLA3 rs738409), nutrient intake, and liver histology severity in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). METHODS: PNPLA3-rs738409 variant was genotyped in 452 non-Hispanic whites with histologically confirmed NAFLD who completed Food Frequency Questionnaire within 6 months of their liver biopsy. The fibrosis severity on liver histology was the outcome of interest. RESULTS: The distribution of PNPLA3 genotypes was CC: 28%, CG: 46%, and GG: 25%. High-carbohydrate (% of energy/d) intake was positively associated (adjusted [Adj] odds ratio [OR]: 1.03, P < 0.01), whereas higher n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) (g/d) (Adj. OR: 0.17, P < 0.01), isoflavones (mg/d) (Adj. OR: 0.74, P = 0.049), methionine (mg/d) (Adj. OR: 0.32, P < 0.01), and choline (mg/d) (Adj. OR: 0.32, P < 0.01) intakes were inversely associated with increased risk of significant fibrosis (stage of fibrosis ≥2). By using an additive model of inheritance, our moderation analysis showed that PNPLA3 rs738409 significantly modulates the relationship between carbohydrate (%), n-3 PUFAs, total isoflavones, methionine, and choline intakes and fibrosis severity in a dose-dependent, genotype manner. These dietary factors tended to have a larger and significant effect on fibrosis severity among rs738409 G-allele carriers. Associations between significant fibrosis and carbohydrates (Adj. OR: 1.04, P = 0.019), n-3 PUFAs (Adj. OR: 0.16, P < 0.01), isoflavones (Adj. OR: 0.65, P = 0.025), methionine (Adj. OR: 0.30, P < 0.01), and total choline (Adj. OR: 0.29, P < 0.01) intakes remained significant only among rs738409 G-allele carriers. DISCUSSION: This gene-diet interaction study suggests that PNPLA3 rs738409 G-allele might modulate the effect of specific dietary nutrients on risk of fibrosis in patients with NAFLD.
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