[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Serum concentrations of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), variably elevated during liver injury, have been suggested to be of prognostic importance in acute liver failure (ALF), higher values being associated with improved outcome. Using a nephelometric assay, we measured AFP in sera obtained on admission from 206 patients prospectively enrolled in the US ALF Study, and on day 3 in 162 of these patients. The AFP ratio was defined as the day 3 AFP concentration divided by that observed on day 1. Median (range) admission serum AFP in all patients was 8.1 (1-1,811) ng/mL and increased to 17.6 (1.1-1,162) ng/mL on day 3 (P < 0.001). Higher absolute levels were not associated with improved outcome. In fact, admission AFP levels were lower in survivors not receiving transplants than in those who died or were transplanted (P < 0.001), whereas there was no difference between the 2 groups on day 3 (P = 0.34). However, a rise in AFP values between day 1 and day 3 indicated a better prognosis: the AFP ratio was 2.2 (0.11-22.1) in spontaneous survivors and 0.87 (0.11-16.4) in nonsurvivors (P < 0.001). An increasing AFP level indicated by an AFP ratio >or=1 was observed in 70 of 98 (71%) survivors, whereas a ratio <1 was observed in 51 of 64 (80%) nonsurvivors. In conclusion, AFP values change dynamically during ALF. In this large prospective study, higher absolute values of AFP did not predict a favorable outcome, but a rising level of AFP over the first 3 hospital days frequently indicated survival.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2006 · Liver Transplantation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Severe acetaminophen hepatotoxicity frequently leads to acute liver failure (ALF). We determined the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of acetaminophen-induced ALF at 22 tertiary care centers in the United States. Detailed prospective data were gathered on 662 consecutive patients over a 6-year period fulfilling standard criteria for ALF (coagulopathy and encephalopathy), from which 275 (42%) were determined to result from acetaminophen liver injury. The annual percentage of acetaminophen-related ALF rose during the study from 28% in 1998 to 51% in 2003. Median dose ingested was 24 g (equivalent to 48 extra-strength tablets). Unintentional overdoses accounted for 131 (48%) cases, intentional (suicide attempts) 122 (44%), and 22 (8%) were of unknown intent. In the unintentional group, 38% took two or more acetaminophen preparations simultaneously, and 63% used narcotic-containing compounds. Eighty-one percent of unintentional patients reported taking acetaminophen and/or other analgesics for acute or chronic pain syndromes. Overall, 178 subjects (65%) survived, 74 (27%) died without transplantation, and 23 subjects (8%) underwent liver transplantation; 71% were alive at 3 weeks. Transplant-free survival rate and rate of liver transplantation were similar between intentional and unintentional groups. In conclusion, acetaminophen hepatotoxicity far exceeds other causes of acute liver failure in the United States. Susceptible patients have concomitant depression, chronic pain, alcohol or narcotic use, and/or take several preparations simultaneously. Education of patients, physicians, and pharmacies to limit high-risk use settings is recommended.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although fragmentation of a liver biopsy specimen has been considered to be suggestive of cirrhosis, the evidence for this is difficult to find in the published literature.
To determine whether fragmentation of percutaneous liver biopsy specimens correlates with the degree of fibrosis.
One hundred and eighty-six patients underwent percutaneous liver biopsy prospectively. The specimens were measured for the length and number of fragments. The extent of fibrosis was scored by a pathologist blind to the clinical data. Length and fragmentation data were compared between the different stages.
The overall median fragment length was 1.85 cm and the median fragment number was four. Specimens with advanced fibrosis (stages III-IV) had more fragments than those with no or mild fibrosis (stages 0-II) (P < 0.0001). The aggregate fragment length decreased with increasing stage of fibrosis (P < 0.0001). Specimens with greater than 12 fragments were seen only with advanced fibrosis.
Fragmentation of percutaneous liver biopsy specimens is common and increases with progression from early to advanced fibrosis. Fibrotic specimens fragment more often and more extensively.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SEN virus (SENV) has been tentatively linked to transfusion-associated non–A–E hepatitis. We investigated SENV’s role in unexplained
hepatitis in other settings. Polymerase chain reaction amplification was used to detect 2 SENV variants (SENV-D and SENV-H)
in 1706 patients and control subjects. SENV was detected in 54 (22%) of 248 patients with acute or chronic non–A–E hepatitis,
9 (35%) of 26 patients with hepatitis-associated aplastic anemia, and 0 of 17 patients with cryptogenic acute liver failure,
compared with 150 (24%) of 621 control subjects with liver disease and 76 (10%) of 794 healthy control subjects. When controlling
for geographic region, the prevalence of SENV among case and control subjects was not significantly different. The severity
of acute or chronic hepatitis A, B, or C was not influenced by coexisting SENV infection. No etiological role for SENV in
the cause of cryptogenic hepatitis could be demonstrated
Full-text · Article · Dec 2003 · The Journal of Infectious Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because acute liver failure is rare, related data have been sparse. Studies have suggested that viral hepatitis is the most common underlying cause of this condition.
To describe the clinical features, presumed causes, and short-term outcomes of acute liver failure.
Prospective cohort study.
17 tertiary care centers participating in the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group.
308 consecutive patients with acute liver failure, admitted over a 41-month period.
Detailed clinical and laboratory data collected during hospitalization, including outcome 3 weeks after study admission.
73% of patients were women; median age was 38 years. Acetaminophen overdose was the most common apparent cause of acute liver failure, accounting for 39% of cases. Idiosyncratic drug reactions were the presumptive cause in 13% of cases, viral hepatitis A and B combined were implicated in 12% of cases, and 17% of cases were of indeterminate cause. Overall patient survival at 3 weeks was 67%. Twenty-nine percent of patients had liver transplantation, and 43% survived without transplantation. Short-term transplant-free survival varied greatly, from 68% for patients with acetaminophen-related liver failure to 25% and 17% for those with other drug reactions and liver failure of indeterminate cause, respectively. Coma grade at admission appeared to be associated with outcome, but age and symptom duration did not.
Acetaminophen overdose and idiosyncratic drug reactions have replaced viral hepatitis as the most frequent apparent causes of acute liver failure. Apparent cause and coma grade at admission were associated with outcome. Although transplantation may improve patient survival, it was unavailable or unnecessary for most patients.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2003 · Annals of internal medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conventional interferon monotherapy fails to achieve virological clearance in most hepatitis C-infected patients. The use of high-dose induction regimens may improve the initial clearance of virus, while the addition of ribavirin appears to improve the rates of sustained response once clearance is achieved.
To compare the efficacy and safety of re-treatment with an induction regimen of high-dose interferon alpha-2b, with or without ribavirin, in chronic hepatitis C patients who have not responded to standard dose interferon monotherapy.
Previous virological non-responders to standard dose interferon (3-5 MU three times weekly for > or = 12 weeks) were randomized to receive, unblind, either 10 MU interferon alpha-2b daily for 10 days, then 5 MU daily for 74 days, then 5 MU three times weekly for 24 weeks (total 36 weeks) (group A), or the above regimen with the addition of ribavirin, 1000-1200 mg/day, at day 11 (group B). All patients were followed up for 24 weeks after completion of therapy.
End of treatment virological response was noted in one of 10 (10%) patients in group A and in eight of 15 (54%) patients in group B (P=0.04). The sole end treatment responder in group A and three in group B relapsed on follow-up. The apparent improvement in response in group B compared to group A nearly reached statistical significance (group B 5/15 vs. group A 0/10; P=0.06).
In this small pilot study, a 36-week high-dose induction interferon monotherapy protocol did not yield sustained responses in previous non-responders to standard dose interferon. However, the same regimen with ribavirin yielded a 33% sustained response rate, nearly reaching statistical significance. The therapy was well tolerated, despite the higher doses of interferon used and the addition of ribavirin. High-dose interferon with ribavirin appears to be a therapeutic option for non-responders to conventional interferon monotherapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has been reported in 30% to 50% of patients with acute liver failure (ALF) in small case series. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of occult HBV infection in a large series of ALF patients in the United States and the prevalence of precore and core promoter variants in patients with ALF caused by hepatitis B. Sera from patients in the US ALF study and liver, when available, were tested using nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with primers in the HBV S and precore regions. PCR-positive samples were sequenced. Sera and/or liver from 139 patients (39 males, 100 females; mean age, 42 years) enrolled between January 1998 and December 1999 were studied. Twelve patients were diagnosed with hepatitis B, 1 with hepatitis B+C+D coinfection, and 22 had indeterminate etiology. HBV DNA was detected in the sera of 9 (6%) patients; all 9 had ALF caused by hepatitis B. HBV genotypes A, B, C, and D were present in 4, 3, 1, and 1 patients, respectively. Seven of these 9 patients had precore and/or core promoter variants. Liver from 19 patients were examined. HBV DNA was detected in the liver of 3 patients with ALF caused by hepatitis B, but in none of the remaining 16 patients with non-B ALF. Contrary to earlier reports, occult HBV infection was not present in this large series of ALF patients in the United States. HBV precore and/or core promoter variants were common among US patients with ALF caused by hepatitis B.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acute hepatic failure (AHF) is an uncommon, devastating syndrome, which results in death or the need for liver transplantation in more than 50% of cases. While AHF has numerous causes, most cases are due to viral hepatitis and drug toxicity or idiosyncratic reactions. A significant group with indeterminate causation remains, despite careful investigation. In many of these cases a viral aetiology is suspected, although yet not proven. Major differences exist in the aetiology of AHF between the West and Eastern countries. A wider range of aetiologies exists in the West. Common causes include acetaminophen toxicity and idiosyncratic drug reactions, while viral hepatitis is less frequent. Hepatitis E infection is rarely seen in Western countries in contrast to its high prevalence in the East. The mainstay of AHF management is supportive care in an intensive care unit. Liver transplantation is now the standard of care in many Western liver units for individuals who have a less than 20% probability of survival. Lack of availability of donor livers at short notice remains a significant problem. Methods of liver support used while waiting for a donor liver or for the native liver to regenerate include bioartificial livers, extracorporeal liver-assist devices, extracorporeal whole organ perfusion (human and transgenic pig) and hepatocyte transplantation. The effectiveness of these methods remains unproven and awaits controlled clinical trials. Both transplantation and liver-support methods require specialized units and expensive and complicated equipment. Further research is necessary to identify modalities of therapy that would be effective as well as widely accessible.
Preview · Article · Jun 2000 · Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology