The association between alcohol consumption and the risk of liver disease remains unclear. The aim of our study was to determine liver morphological features directly related to the mean lifetime daily alcohol intake (LTDAI) in non-cirrhotic patients.
Medical records of all consecutive patients who reported alcohol consumption up to the time of hospital admission and who had undergone a liver biopsy in the Gastroenterology Unit of the University Hospital Centre of Tirana (Albania), were reviewed. Patients with established cirrhosis and/or with other possible causes of liver damage were excluded by the study.
The histological features revealed in the biopsy samples of 51 non-cirrhotic patients were: steatosis in 46 patients (91%), six of whom (13%) showed also alcoholic foamy degeneration; alteration of hepatocytes in 40 patients (78%), diffuse mononuclear inflammation in 37 patients (73%), polymorphonuclear inflammation in 11 patients (22%) and perivenular fibrosis in 18 patients (35%). Diffuse steatosis was directly correlated with alcohol consumption (P<0.01). No association was found between alcohol consumption and the presence of degenerative alterations of hepatocytes, Mallory bodies or hepatocellular necrosis. Fibrosis was more prevalent in patients who reported a LTDAI > or = 80 g in comparison with patients who reported a LTDAI > or = 40 to <80 g (48% vs 25%; P<0.05).
In non-cirrhotic patients liver steatosis and fibrosis were more common features among patients who reported a higher alcoholic consumption, but no clear-cut association between typical histological features of alcoholic liver disease and alcohol consumption was found.