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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

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Ed. by Gillery, Philippe / Greaves, Ronda / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Payne, Deborah A. / Schlattmann, Peter

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Volume 51, Issue 7


Serum carcinoembryonic antigen is associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in healthy Korean non-smokers

Jee-Yon Lee
  • Department of Family Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, College of Medicine, Seodaemun-gu, Korea
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Duk-Chul Lee
  • Department of Family Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, College of Medicine, Seodaemun-gu, Korea
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ji-Won Lee
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Family Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, College of Medicine, Seodaemun-gu, Korea
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-02-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cclm-2012-0585


Background: Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a biomarker overexpressed in malignant tumors, exhibits increased levels in certain non-malignant conditions, including chronic inflammatory status. The elevation of CEA in chronic inflammatory conditions suggests that this marker may also be associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Therefore, we investigated the relationship between serum CEA concentrations and NAFLD in healthy Korean non-smokers.

Methods: A total of 200 healthy Korean non-smokers were enrolled during their routine health check-ups. Biomarkers of metabolic risk factors were assessed along with the presence of NAFLD using the liver Fibroscan®. Serum CEA levels were measured using a chemiluminescence immunoassay analyzer.

Results: The prevalence of NAFLD increased significantly with increasing CEA quartiles; the mean log CEA level increased gradually according to the grade of hepatic steatosis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, body mass index, exercise, blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, white blood cell counts, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and γ-glutamyltransferase showed that the fourth CEA quartile was associated with NAFLD, with an odds ratio of 2.98 (95% confidence interval 1.10–8.05, p<0.01).

Conclusions: Our study showed independent associations between CEA and NAFLD by analyzing data from 200 healthy Korean non-smokers, suggesting that CEA functions in the pathophysiology of fatty liver disease. Further studies are required to better understand the clinical and pathophysiological significance of our findings.

Keywords: carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA); inflammation; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


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About the article

Corresponding author: Ji-Won Lee, MD, Department of Family Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, College of Medicine, 250 Seongsanno, Seodaemun-gu, 120–752, Korea, Phone: +82 2 22282338, Fax: +82 2 3622473

Received: 2012-09-07

Accepted: 2013-01-03

Published Online: 2013-02-07

Published in Print: 2013-07-01

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Volume 51, Issue 7, Pages 1499–1504, ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cclm-2012-0585.

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