Urinary L-FABP is a promising prognostic biomarker of ACLF and mortality in patients with decompensated cirrhosis

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Background & Aims: Decompensated cirrhosis (DC) is associated with high mortality, mainly owing to the development of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Identifying the patients with DC who are at high risk of mortality and ACLF development is an unmet clinical need. Liver fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP) is expressed in several organs and correlates with liver and systemic inflammation. Herein, we aimed to assess the prognostic value of L-FABP in patients with DC. Methods: A prospective series of 444 patients hospitalized for DC was divided into 2 cohorts: study cohort (305 patients) and validation cohort (139 patients). L-FABP was measured in urine and plasma samples collected at admission. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) was also measured in urine samples for comparison. Results: Urine but not plasma L-FABP correlated with 3-month survival on univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, urine L-FABP and model for end-stage liver disease (MELD)-Na were the only independent predictors of prognosis. Urine L-FABP levels were higher in patients with ACLF than in those without and also predicted the development of ACLF, together with MELD-Na, during follow-up. In patients with ACLF, urine L-FABP correlated with liver, coagulation, and circulatory failure. Urine L-FABP levels were also increased in patients with acute kidney injury, particularly in those with acute tubular necrosis. The ability of urinary L-FABP to predict survival and ACLF development was confirmed in the validation cohort. Urine NGAL predicted outcome on univariate but not multivariate analysis. Conclusions: Urinary L-FABP levels are independently associated with the 3-month clinical course in patients with DC, in terms of mortality and ACLF development. Urinary L-FABP is a promising prognostic biomarker for patients with DC. Lay summary: Increased levels of liver fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP), a protein related to lipid metabolism, have been associated with liver-related diseases. The present study analyzed urinary L-FABP levels in 2 independent groups of patients with decompensated cirrhosis and showed that higher urinary L-FABP levels correlated with increased mortality and risk of acute-on-chronic liver failure development. Therefore, urinary L-FABP levels could be useful as a new tool to predict complications in patients with decompensated cirrhosis.




Juanola, A., Graupera, I., Elia, C., Piano, S., Solé, C., Carol, M., … Ginès, P. (2022). Urinary L-FABP is a promising prognostic biomarker of ACLF and mortality in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Journal of Hepatology, 76(1), 107–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2021.08.031

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