HBV surface antigen and antibodies against HCV were measured to exclude hepatitis B and C [48]. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and c-reactive protein (CRP) were measured using a Cobas 6000 analyzer (Roche Diagnostics, SPA, Monza, Italy). Blood pressure was measured using a sphygmomanometer following international guidelines. Metabolic syndrome (MS) was diagnosed using the criteria of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) [49]. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was used as a surrogate measure of insulin resistance [50].

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