The association between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been shown in many observational studies, but these conclusions remain controversial. Hence, we performed a meta-analysis to elucidate the association.
A comprehensive search was conducted on relevant studies published from inception to December 31, 2018, in PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases. Odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were pooled by random-effect model, generic inverse variance method. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses were also done. Publication bias was estimated by the funnel plot, Begg's test, and Egger's test.
Fifteen studies (eleven cross-sectional, two case-control, and two cohort studies) were included in this meta-analysis. The pooled OR of NAFLD in patients with H. pylori infection was 1.19 (95% CI: 1.11-1.29, P < 0.00001) when compared with the patients without H. pylori infection. Similar results were observed when the subgroup analyses were stratified by different geographical locations, study designs, and confounders adjustment. In subgroup analysis stratified by different H. pylori testing methods, the correlation still exists when using UBT, serology, RUT, or SAT, but there was no statistically significant difference when using multiple detection methods (OR = 2.96, 95% CI: 0.37-23.94, P = 0.31). Sensitivity analyses showed that our results were robust. No evidence of substantial publication bias was detected.
Current evidence indicated that a positive association between H. pylori infection and the risk of NAFLD. Further prospective studies are warranted to strengthen the association and to clarify whether there is a causative link between them.