Plasma Gc protein sequesters actin released into the circulation after massive hepatocyte necrosis, but is greatly depleted in the process. In fulminant hepatic failure (FHF), Gc is present in serum both as a complex with actin and as unbound protein, the latter becoming completely exhausted in those patients with the most severe FHF. In the present study, 47 consecutive patients with FHF, 39 of whom were the result of acetaminophen (AC) overdose, were evaluated to determine whether measurement of Gc protein levels could be used to predict survival. Using serum samples obtained shortly after admission as well as later samples, levels for total Gc protein, percentage of Gc complexed with actin, and calculated unbound Gc remaining in serum were compared for survivors and those who died of their illness. The most marked changes were present in unbound Gc levels in nonsurvivors, the mean of which for follow-up samples was 10% of normal mean values, as compared with 23% of normal mean values in those who survived (P < .01). Using a cutoff value for unbound Gc protein of ≥34 μg/mL to predict survival, outcome was correctly predicted in 32 of 47 (68%) patients using early samples, and in 24 of 27 (89%) patients using later sera. No differences were observed between values and/or outcome in AC and non-AC cases. Measurement of Gc protein level correctly predicted all patients dying of hepatic failure. This single measurement compares favorably with multifactorial predictive models, such as the King's College model, and might be a useful test for patients being considered for transplantation.
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