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scientific articles

Liver injury is associated with mortality in sickle cell disease

key information

source: Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics

year: 2015

authors: Feld JJ, Kato GJ, Koh C, Shields T, Hildesheim M, Kleiner DE, Taylor JG 6th, Sandler NG, Douek D, Haynes-Williams V, Nichols JS, Hoofnagle JH, Jake Liang T, Gladwin MT, Heller T

summary/abstract:

BACKGROUND:
Increased life expectancy in sickle cell disease (SCD) has resulted in greater recognition of the consequences of repeated intravascular vaso-occlusion and chronic haemolysis to multiple organ systems.

AIM:
To report the long-term consequences of liver dysfunction in SCD.

METHODS:
A cohort of SCD patients was prospectively evaluated at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. The association of mortality with liver enzymes, parameters of liver synthetic function and iron overload was evaluated using Cox regression.

RESULTS:
Exactly, 247 SCD patients were followed up for 30 months of whom 22 (9%) died. After controlling for predictors, increased direct bilirubin (DB), ferritin, alkaline phosphatase and decreased albumin were independently associated with mortality. In a multivariable model, only high DB and ferritin remained significant. Ferritin correlated with hepatic iron content and total blood transfusions but not haemolysis markers. Forty patients underwent liver biopsies and 11 (28%) had fibrosis. Twelve of 26 patients (48%) had portal hypertension by hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) measurements. All patients with advanced liver fibrosis had iron overload; however, most patients (69%) with iron overload were without significant hepatic fibrosis. Ferritin did not correlate with left ventricular dysfunction by echocardiography. DB correlated with bile acid levels suggesting liver pathology. Platelet count and soluble CD14 correlated with HVPG indicating portal hypertension.

CONCLUSIONS:
Ferritin and direct bilirubin are independently associated with mortality in sickle cell disease. Ferritin likely relates to transfusional iron overload, while direct bilirubin suggests impairment of hepatic function, possibly impairing patients’ ability to tolerate systemic insults.

organisation: National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda; University of Toronto; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Bethesda; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; National Cancer Institute, Bethesda; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Bethesda

DOI: 10.1111/apt.13347

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