Background: Changes in Gc-globulin (Gc) and in alpha-foetoprotein (AFP) have been shown to be related to outcome in patients with acute liver failure (ALF). Gc is a serum protein that complexes with intravascular actin released during cellular necrosis. AFP, also made by hepatocytes, is associated with hepatocellular growth and regeneration. Previously, low absolute levels or decreases over time in either AFP or Gc portended to be a poor outcome. Methods: In a retrospective analysis of the double-blind trial of intravenous N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for ALF not because of acetaminophen, sera on days 1 and 3 or days 2 and 4 following admission were available to measure AFP in 70 patients and Gc in 66 patients. Mann-Whitney U tests were performed on the admission values, the absolute change and the fractional change of AFP and Gc to compare TFS (transplant-free survival) and non-TFS (death or transplantation). Logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were performed to evaluate the markers in comparison and in addition to King's College Criteria (KCC). Results: Transplant-free survival patients were characterized by increases in AFP, whereas non-TFS had significantly different (negative) absolute and fractional changes (P <.01). The addition of declining AFP levels to KCC improved the area under the curve in predicting non-TFS (AUC >70%). Gc globulin values did not differ between TFS and non-TFS in the 2-day intervals studied (P>.2). Conclusion: In this comparison of two prognostic markers in patients with non-acetaminophen-induced ALF, rising AFP but not rising Gc levels was associated with TFS. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00004467.
- acute liver failure
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