MRI-based (MAST) score accurately identifies patients with NASH and significant fibrosis

Mazen Noureddin, Emily Truong, Jeffrey A. Gornbein, Rola Saouaf, Maha Guindi, Tsuyoshi Todo, Nabil Noureddin, Ju Dong Yang, Stephen A. Harrison, Naim Alkhouri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Among the large population of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), identifying those with fibrotic non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (Fibro-NASH) is a clinical priority, as these patients are at the highest risk of disease progression and will benefit most from pharmacologic treatment. MRI-based proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF) and MR elastography (MRE) can risk-stratify patients with NAFLD by assessing steatosis and fibrosis, respectively. We developed a highly specific MRI-based score to identify patients with Fibro-NASH. Methods: This analysis included derivation (n = 103) and validation (n = 244) cohorts of patients who underwent MRI, liver biopsy, transient elastography, and laboratory testing for NAFLD from 2016-2020 in 2 tertiary care centers. To identify Fibro-NASH, a formula was developed based on MRI-PDFF, MRE, and a third variable with highest balanced accuracy per logistic regression. The MRI-aspartate aminotransferase (MAST) score was created and compared to NAFLD fibrosis (NFS), Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4), and FibroScan-aspartate aminotransferase (FAST) scores. Results: The MAST score demonstrated high performance and discrimination in the validation cohort (AUC 0.93; 95% CI 0.88-0.97). In the validation cohorts, the 90% specificity cut-off of 0.242 corresponded to a sensitivity of 75.0%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 50.0% and negative predictive value (NPV) of 96.5%, whereas the 90% sensitivity cut-off of 0.165 corresponded to a specificity of 72.2%, PPV of 29.4%, and NPV of 98.1%. Compared to NFS and FIB-4, MAST resulted in fewer patients having indeterminate scores and an overall higher AUC. Compared to FAST, MAST exhibited a higher AUC and overall better discrimination. Conclusion: The MAST score is an accurate, MRI-serum-based score that outperforms previous scores in non-invasively identifying patients at higher risk of Fibro-NASH. Lay summary: Identifying patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and significant fibrosis – who need treatment and are at risk of clinical liver-related outcomes – is a clinical priority. We developed a more accurate score using MRI-based technologies and a laboratory blood test (aspartate aminotransferase) that outperforms previous non-invasive scores for the identification of patients at higher risk of liver disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-787
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Fatty Liver
  • MRE
  • NASH treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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