Etiology and management of fulminant hepatic failure

Department of Medicine, Northwestern Feinberg Medical School, Searle 10-573, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.
Current Gastroenterology Reports 03/2003; 5(1):39-47. DOI: 10.1007/s11894-003-0008-8
Source: PubMed


Fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) remains a rare but devastating disease. Viruses and drug-induced hepatotoxicity are the most common causes of the syndrome, but the relevance of each differs depending on the geographic area. In a large proportion of patients no cause for FHF can be identified. Good intensive care is critical for patient survival. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) remains a definitive therapeutic option. Prognostic indices have helped to optimize patient selection and timing for performance of OLT. However, the accuracy of these prognostic indices decreases when they are applied to different populations, probably because of regional differences in etiology and peculiar native host factors. More accurate prognostic criteria and new therapeutic alternatives to OLT are required.

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    • "It showed in patients with hepatic failure that incidence of brain edema reached 51.4% with autopsy, whereas it was 30.1% with clinical examination. When encephalopathy and brain edema occur, the disease takes a rapidly progressive and lethal course [2, 3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Brain edema in acute liver failure (ALF) remains lethal. Cytotoxic mechanisms associated with brain edema have been well recognized, but the role of vasogenic mechanisms of brain edema has not been explored. Intact tight junctions (TJs) between brain capillary endothelial cells are critical for normal BBB function. Recent reports found significant alterations in the tight junction elements including occludin and claudin-5, suggesting a vasogenic injury in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity. However, the role of TJ in ALF has not been completely understood. This paper reviews the role of the paracellular tight junction in the increased selective BBB permeability that leads to brain edema in ALF and furthermore explores the effect of systemic inflammatory cytokines on the tight junction dysfunction.
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    • "Fulminant hepatitis is a devastating liver disease caused by autoimmune hepatitis, alcohol consumption, chronic or acute viral hepatitis infection, which remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality internationally [1], [2]. Fulminant hepatitis is associated with severe hyperbilirubinemia, hepatic encephalopathy and death. "
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    ABSTRACT: Fulminant hepatitis progresses to acute liver failure (ALF) when the extent of hepatocyte death exceeds the liver's regenerative capacity. Although small interfering RNA (siRNA) appears promising in animal models of hepatitis, the approach is limited by drawbacks associated with systemic administration of siRNA. The aim of this study is to develop a hepatocyte-specific delivery system of siRNA for treatment of fulminant hepatitis. Galactose-conjugated liposome nano-particles (Gal-LipoNP) bearing siRNA was prepared, and the particle size and zeta potential of Gal-LipoNP/siRNA complexes were measured. The distribution, cytotoxicity and gene silence efficiency were studied in vivo in a concanavalin A (ConA)-induced hepatitis model. C57BL/6 mice were treated with Gal-LipoNP Fas siRNA by i.v. injection 72 h before ConA challenge, and hepatocyte injury was evaluated using serum alanine transferase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels, as well as liver histopathology and TUNEL-positive hepatocytes. The galactose-ligated liposomes were capable of encapsulating >96% siRNA and exhibited a higher stability than naked siRNA in plasma. Hepatocyte-specific targeting was confirmed by in vivo delivery experiment, in which the majority of Gal-LipoNP-siRNA evaded nuclease digestion and accumulated in the liver as soon as 6 h after administration. In vivo gene silencing was significant in the liver after treatment of Gal-Lipo-siRNA. In the ConA-induced hepatitis model, serum levels of ALT and AST were significantly reduced in mice treated with Gal-lipoNP-siRNA as compared with control mice. Additionally, tissue histopathology and apoptosis showed an overall reduction of injury in the Gal-LipoNP siRNA-treated mice. This study is the first to our knowledge to demonstrate reduction of hepatic injury by liver-specific induction of RNA interference using Gal-LipoNP Fas siRNA, highlighting a novel RNAi-based therapeutic potential in many liver diseases.
    PLoS ONE 09/2012; 7(9):e44138. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0044138 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Patients in early stages of FHF may recover spontaneously. However, during stages III and IV (comatose stages), when encephalopathy and brain edema occur, the disease takes a rapidly progressive and lethal course [1] [2] [3]. Brain edema in FHF results from compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, leading to increased extravasation of water and other small molecules into the brain [2] [3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Brain edema secondary to increased blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability is a lethal complication in fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). Intact tight junctions (TJ) between brain capillary endothelial cells are critical for normal BBB function. However, the role of TJ in FHF has not been explored. We hypothesized that alterations in the composition of TJ proteins would result in increased BBB permeability in FHF. In this study, FHF was induced in C57BL/6J mice by using azoxymethane. BBB permeability was assessed with sodium fluorescein. Expression of TJ proteins was determined by Western blot, and their cellular distribution was examined using immunofluorescent microscopy. Comatose FHF mice had significant cerebral sodium fluorescein extravasation compared with control and precoma FHF mice, indicating increased BBB permeability. Western blot analysis showed a significant decrease in zonula occludens (ZO)-2 expression starting in the precoma stage. Immunofluorescent microscopy showed a significantly altered distribution pattern of ZO-2 in isolated microvessels from precoma FHF mice. These changes were more prominent in comatose FHF animals. Significant alterations in ZO-2 expression and distribution in the tight junctions preceded the increased BBB permeability in FHF mice. These results suggest that ZO-2 may play an important role in the pathogenesis of brain edema in FHF.
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