INTRODUCTION: We hypothesized that liver fibrosis is associated with worse cognitive performance and corresponding brain imaging changes.
METHODS: We examined the association of liver fibrosis with cognition and brain imaging parameters in the UK Biobank study. Liver fibrosis was assessed using the Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) score. The primary cognitive outcome was the digit symbol substitution test (DSST); secondary outcomes were additional executive function/processing speed and memory tests. Imaging outcomes were hippocampal, total brain, and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volumes.
RESULTS: We included 105,313 participants with cognitive test data, and 41,982 with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In adjusted models, liver fibrosis was associated with worse performance on the DSST and tests of executive function but not memory. Liver fibrosis was associated with lower hippocampal and total brain volumes, without compelling association with WMH volume.
DISCUSSION: Liver fibrosis is associated with worse performance on select cognitive tests and lower hippocampal and total brain volumes.
HIGHLIGHTS: It is increasingly recognized that chronic liver conditions impact brain health. We performed an analysis of data from the UK Biobank prospective cohort study. Liver fibrosis was associated with worse performance on executive function tests. Liver fibrosis was not associated with memory impairment. Liver fibrosis was associated with lower hippocampal and total brain volumes.