Background and Aims: Crohn's disease (CD) confers an increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but the pathogenesis remains poorly understood. We determined if active intestinal inflammation increases the risk of NAFLD in patients with CD. Methods: Two cohorts (2017/2018 and 2020) with CD and no known liver disease were enrolled consecutively during staging magnetic resonance enterography. We quantified proton density fat fraction, MaRIA (Magnetic Resonance Index of Activity), and visceral adipose tissue. NAFLD was diagnosed when proton density fat fraction ≥5.5%. Synchronous endoscopy was graded by the Simple Endoscopic Score for CD and Rutgeerts score, while clinical activity was graded by the Harvey-Bradshaw index. Cytokine profiling was performed for the 2020 cohort. Transient elastography and liver biopsy were requested by standard of care. Results: NAFLD was diagnosed in 40% (n = 144 of 363), with higher prevalence during radiographically quiescent disease (odds ratio, 1.7; P = .01), independent of body mass index/visceral adipose tissue (adjusted odds ratio, 7.8; P = .03). These findings were corroborated by endoscopic disease activity, but not by aggregate clinical symptoms. Circulating interleukin-8 was independent of body mass index to predict NAFLD, but traditional proinflammatory cytokines were not. NAFLD subjects had similar liver stiffness estimates regardless of CD activity. Definitive or borderline steatohepatitis was present in most patients that underwent liver biopsy. Conclusions: Quiescent CD is associated with risk of NAFLD. These findings suggest potentially distinct pathogenic mechanisms of NAFLD in patients with CD compared with the prevailing leaky gut hypothesis proposed for individuals without inflammatory bowel disease. Future validation and mechanistic studies are needed to dissect these distinct disease modifying factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-767
Number of pages11
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2024


  • IL-8
  • NASH
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • obesity


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