Urinary L-FABP is a promising prognostic biomarker of ACLF and mortality in patients with decompensated cirrhosis

Adrià Juanola, Isabel Graupera, Chiara Elia, Salvatore Piano, Cristina Solé, Marta Carol, Martina Pérez-Guasch, Octavi Bassegoda, Laia Escudé, Ana-Belén Rubio, Marta Cervera, Laura Napoleone, Emma Avitabile, Ann T Ma, Núria Fabrellas, Elisa Pose, Manuel Morales-Ruiz, Wladimiro Jiménez, Ferran Torres, Gonzalo CrespoElsa Solà, Pere Ginès

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background & Aims: Decompensated cirrhosis (DC) is associated with high mortality, mainly owing to the development of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Identifying the patients with DC who are at high risk of mortality and ACLF development is an unmet clinical need. Liver fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP) is expressed in several organs and correlates with liver and systemic inflammation. Herein, we aimed to assess the prognostic value of L-FABP in patients with DC.

Methods: A prospective series of 444 patients hospitalized for DC was divided into 2 cohorts: study cohort (305 patients) and validation cohort (139 patients). L-FABP was measured in urine and plasma samples collected at admission. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) was also measured in urine samples for comparison.

Results: Urine but not plasma L-FABP correlated with 3-month survival on univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, urine L-FABP and model for end-stage liver disease (MELD)-Na were the only independent predictors of prognosis. Urine L-FABP levels were higher in patients with ACLF than in those without and also predicted the development of ACLF, together with MELD-Na, during follow-up. In patients with ACLF, urine L-FABP correlated with liver, coagulation, and circulatory failure. Urine L-FABP levels were also increased in patients with acute kidney injury, particularly in those with acute tubular necrosis. The ability of urinary L-FABP to predict survival and ACLF development was confirmed in the validation cohort. Urine NGAL predicted outcome on univariate but not multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: Urinary L-FABP levels are independently associated with the 3-month clinical course in patients with DC, in terms of mortality and ACLF development. Urinary L-FABP is a promising prognostic biomarker for patients with DC.

Lay summary: Increased levels of liver fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP), a protein related to lipid metabolism, have been associated with liver-related diseases. The present study analyzed urinary L-FABP levels in 2 independent groups of patients with decompensated cirrhosis and showed that higher urinary L-FABP levels correlated with increased mortality and risk of acute-on- chronic liver failure development. Therefore, urinary L-FABP levels could be useful as a new tool to predict complications in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. (C) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of European Association for the Study of the Liver.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of hepatology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure
  • Cirrhosis
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • L-FABP
  • Liver
  • Mortality
  • Organ Failure


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