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Ther Drug Monit. 2001 Apr;23(2):81-92.

The MEGX test: a tool for the real-time assessment of hepatic function.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany.


The dynamic liver function test based on the hepatic conversion of lidocaine to monoethylglycinexylidide (MEGX) can complement established static liver function tests if prognostic information is of particular interest. Because of its ease of use and rapid turnaround, the MEGX test has found widespread application for realtime assessment of hepatic function in transplantation, critical care medicine, and various experimental models. Lidocaine is metabolized primarily by the liver cytochrome P450 system through sequential oxidative N-dealkylation, the major initial metabolite in humans being MEGX. Because of the relatively high extraction ratio of lidocaine, this liver function test depends not only on hepatic metabolic capacity but also on hepatic blood flow. For the determination of MEGX in serum, an immunoassay based on the fluorescence polarization immunoassay technique high-performance liquid chromatography and gas liquid chromatography methods have been described. Whereas high-performance liquid chromatography and gas liquid chromatography are specific for MEGX, the fluorescence polarization immunoassay also cross-reacts with 3-OH-MEGX. Although this is not a problem in humans, some species, such as the rat, produce significant amounts of this metabolite. The findings of most studies published so far suggest that the MEGX test is a useful tool that can improve our decision-making process with respect to the selection of transplant candidates. Patients with a MEGX 15- or 30-minute test value <10 microg/L have a particularly poor 1-year survival rate. Serial monitoring of liver graft recipients early after transplantation with the MEGX test may initially alert the clinician to a major change in liver function; if used with other tests, such as serum hyaluronic acid concentrations, it may become more discriminatory. In critically ill patients, several studies have shown that an initially rapid decrease in MEGX test values is associated with an enhanced risk for the development of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and a poor outcome. Further, this decrease appears to be associated with an enhanced systemic inflammatory response. The MEGX test has potential for investigating the pathogenesis of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome with regard to early hepatic functional impairment in critically ill patients after polytrauma or sepsis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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