From the Journals

Class III obesity increases risk of acute on chronic liver failure in cirrhotic patients



Class III obesity was significantly, independently associated with acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF) in patients with decompensated cirrhosis, and patients with both class III obesity and acute on chronic liver failure also had a significant risk of renal failure, according to a recent retrospective analysis of two databases publised in the Journal of Hepatology.

Vinay Sundaram, MD, from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and his colleagues evaluated 387,884 patients who were in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) during 2005-2016; were class I or II obese (body mass index 30-39 kg/m2), class III obese (BMI greater than or equal to 40), or not obese (BMI less than 30); and were on a wait list for liver transplantation.


They used the definition of ACLF outlined in the CANONIC (Consortium Acute on Chronic Liver Failure in Cirrhosis) study, which defined it as having “a single hepatic decompensation, such as ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, variceal bleed, or bacterial infection, and one of the following organ failures: single renal failure, single nonrenal organ failure with renal dysfunction or hepatic encephalopathy, or two nonrenal organ failures,” and confirmed the results in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) databases by using diagnostic coding algorithms to identify factors such as hepatic decompensation, obesity, and ACLF in that study population.

Dr. Sundarem and his colleagues identified 116,704 patients (30.1%) with acute on chronic liver failure in both the UNOS and NIS databases. At the time of liver transplantation, there was a significant association between ACLF and class I and class II obesity (hazard ratio, 1.12; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-1.19; P less than .001) and class III obesity (HR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.09-1.41; P less than .001). Other predictors of ACLF in this population were increased age (HR, 1.01 per year; 95% CI, 1.00-1.01; P = .037), hepatitis C virus (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.16-1.35; P less than .001) and hepatitis C combined with alcoholic liver disease (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.06-1.30; P = .002). Regarding organ failure, “renal insufficiency was similar among the three groups,” with increasing obesity class associated with a greater prevalence of renal failure.

“Given the heightened risk of renal failure among obese patients with cirrhosis, we suggest particularly careful management of this fragile population regarding diuretic usage, avoidance of nephrotoxic agents, and administration of an adequate albumin challenge in the setting of acute kidney injury,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers encouraged “an even greater emphasis on weight reduction” for class III obese patients. They noted the association between class III obesity and ACLF is likely caused by an “obesity-related chronic inflammatory state” and said future prospective studies should seek to describe the inflammatory pathways for each condition to predict risk of ACLF in these patients.

The authors reported having no financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Sundarem V et al. J Hepatol. 2018 April 27. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2018.04.016.

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