Albumin dialysis has a favorable effect on amino acid profile in hepatic encephalopathy

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According to one popular theory, hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is partly caused by an imbalance in plasma amino acid levels. The Fischer's ratio between branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and aromatic amino acids (AAAs) correlates with the degree of HE; the lower Fischer's ratio, the higher the grade of HE. Extra-corporeal liver support systems, like MARS®-albumin dialysis (Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System), can improve HE. The MARS® system uses a hyperosmolar albumin circuit to remove both water-soluble and albumin-bound substances. Plasma levels of neuroactive amino acids were analyzed in 82 consecutive patients with life-threatening liver failure admitted to our ICU. All patients fulfilled our indications for MARS treatment and most also fulfilled the criteria for liver transplantation (LTx). In patients with acute liver failure (ALF), as compared to those with acute decompensation of chronic liver failure (AcOChr), levels of leucine and isoleucine were significantly higher before MARS® treatment. In all patients, before MARS® treatment the higher the grade of HE grade the lower was the Fischer's ratio and higher were the levels of inhibitory neuroactive amino acids. During MARS® treatments the Fischer's ratio increased, and the grade of HE decreased. The increase in Fischer's ratio was mainly due to the decrease in AAAs. The plasma levels of neuroactive amino acids, methionine, glutamine, glutamate, histidine and taurine decreased during MARS®-treatment. In this study MARS®-albumin dialysis had a favorable effect on the plasma amino acid profile of patients with HE.

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