We aimed to investigate the association between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) burden, especially according to the NAFLD severity. A total of 1,260 participants were included. The CSVD burden was assessed with white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunes, and microbleeds (MBs) on brain MRI. An ultrasound diagnosis of fatty liver was made based on standard criteria, and the Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) index was used to classify participants with NAFLD with having a high-intermediate (FIB-4 ≥1.45) or low (FIB-4 < 1.45) probability of advanced fibrosis. A multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association between NAFLD and the presence of moderate to severe WMH, lacunes, and MBs. NAFLD had a significant association only with moderate to severe WMH (OR: 1.64, 95% CI: 1.10–2.42), even after controlling for cardiometabolic risk factors. A linear trend test showed a significant association between the severity of NAFLD fibrosis and the presence of moderate to severe WMH (p for trend <0.001). Our findings suggest that NAFLD, especially NAFLD with fibrosis, has a significant association with the presence of moderate to severe WMH in cognitively normal individuals, and NAFLD severity predicted more frequent moderate to severe WMH.
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