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Plasma ammonia levels predict hospitalisation with liver-related complications and mortality in clinically stable outpatients with cirrhosis

Tranah, Thomas H; Ballester, María-Pilar; Carbonell-Asins, Juan Antonio; Ampuero, Javier; Alexandrino, Gonçalo; Caracostea, Andrea; Sánchez-Torrijos, Yolanda; ... Shawcross, Debbie L; + view all (2022) Plasma ammonia levels predict hospitalisation with liver-related complications and mortality in clinically stable outpatients with cirrhosis. Journal of Hepatology 10.1016/j.jhep.2022.07.014. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Hyperammonaemia is central in the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy, but also has pleiotropic deleterious effects on several organ systems, impacting on immune function, sarcopenia, energy metabolism and portal hypertension. This study was performed to test the hypothesis that severity of hyperammonaemia is a risk factor for liver-related complications in clinically stable outpatients with cirrhosis. METHODS: We collected data from 754 clinically stable outpatients with cirrhosis from 3 independent liver units. Baseline ammonia levels were corrected to the upper limit of normal (AMM-ULN) for the reference laboratory. The primary endpoint was hospitalisation with liver-related complications (a composite endpoint of bacterial infection, variceal bleeding, overt hepatic encephalopathy, or new onset or worsening of ascites). Multivariable competing risk frailty analysis and fast unified random forest were performed to predict complications and mortality. External validation was carried out using prospective data from 130 cirrhotic patients in an independent tertiary liver centre. RESULTS: Overall, 260 (35%) patients were hospitalised with liver-related complications. On multivariable analysis, AMM-ULN was an independent predictor of both liver-related complications (HR=2.13; 95%CI=1.89-2.40; p<0.001) and mortality (HR=1.45; 95%CI=1.20-1.76; p<0.001). AUROC of AMM-ULN was 77.9% for 1-year complications, higher than traditional severity scores. Statistical differences in survival were found between high and low levels of AMM-ULN both for complications and mortality (p<0.001) using 1.4 as the optimal cut-off from the training set. AMM-ULN remained a key variable for the prediction of complications within the random forests model in the derivation cohort and upon external validation. CONCLUSION: Ammonia is an independent predictor of hospitalisation with liver-related complications and mortality in clinically stable outpatients with cirrhosis and performs better than traditional prognostic scores in predicting complications. LAY SUMMARY: We conducted a prospective cohort study evaluating the association of blood ammonia levels with the risk of adverse outcomes in 754 patients with stable cirrhosis across 3 independent liver units. We found that ammonia is a key determinant that helps to predict which patients will be hospitalised, develop liver-related complications and die; this was confirmed in an independent cohort of patients.

Type: Article
Title: Plasma ammonia levels predict hospitalisation with liver-related complications and mortality in clinically stable outpatients with cirrhosis
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhep.2022.07.014
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2022.07.014
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Keywords: Ammonia, Ascites, Bacterial infection, Cirrhosis, Hepatic encephalopathy, Liver-related complications, Variceal bleeding
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Inst for Liver and Digestive Hlth
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10152755
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