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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Dec;4(12):1544-9. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Influence of high body mass index on outcome in acute liver failure.

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GI Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Diabetes and obesity affect development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease increases susceptibility to hepatic injury and limits regenerative capacity, which might increase adverse outcomes in acute liver failure. There is no difference in the prevalence of diabetes in acute liver failure patients when compared with the general population, but no large studies have examined the relationship of obesity to incidence or outcome of acute liver failure.


Seven hundred eighty-two adult patients with acute liver failure were prospectively enrolled from 1998-2004. Body mass index, history of diabetes, and outcome were recorded. Multivariable logistic regression was used for the analysis.


Compared with 30.4% of adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 29.1% of adult patients with acute liver failure were obese (P=.542). Obese patients had 1.63 times the odds of transplantation or death as nonobese patients (1.04-2.55, P=.033). Severely obese patients had 1.93 times the odds of transplantation or death (1.02-3.62, P=.042). There were no differences in the proportion of patients listed for transplantation, with body mass index greater or less than 30, 35, or 40 (P=.264, P=.112, P=.244, respectively). Obese patients had 3.4 times the odds of dying after transplantation (1.29-8.87, P=.01).


Obesity does not appear to be more prevalent in acute liver failure. However, obese and severely obese patients had significantly poorer outcomes when they developed acute liver failure. This difference is not explained by weight discrimination in listing patients for transplantation, despite evidence for poorer post-transplant outcomes.

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