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Ann Intensive Care. 2017 Oct 5;7(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s13613-017-0323-0.

The association between FABP7 serum levels with survival and neurological complications in acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure: a nested case-control study.

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Division of Gastroenterology (Liver Unit), Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Alberta, 1-40 Zeidler Ledcor Building, Edmonton, AB, T6G-2X8, Canada.
Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
Hepato-Neuro Laboratory, CRCHUM, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada.
Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.



Acetaminophen (APAP)-induced acute liver failure (ALF) is associated with significant mortality due to intracranial hypertension (ICH), a result of cerebral edema (CE) and astrocyte swelling. Brain-type fatty acid-binding protein (FABP7) is a small (15 kDa) cytoplasmic protein abundantly expressed in astrocytes. The aim of this study was to determine whether serum FABP7 levels early (day 1) or late (days 3-5) level were associated with 21-day mortality and/or the presence of ICH/CE in APAP-ALF patients.


Serum samples from 198 APAP-ALF patients (nested case-control study with 99 survivors and 99 non-survivors) were analyzed by ELISA methods and assessed with clinical data from the US Acute Liver Failure Study Group (ALFSG) Registry (1998-2014).


APAP-ALF survivors had significantly lower serum FABP7 levels on admission (147.9 vs. 316.5 ng/ml, p = 0.0002) and late (87.3 vs. 286.2 ng/ml, p < 0.0001) compared with non-survivors. However, a significant association between 21-day mortality and increased serum FABP7 early [log FABP7 odds ratio (OR) 1.16, p = 0.32] and late (log FABP7 ~ OR 1.34, p = 0.21) was not detected after adjusting for significant covariates (MELD, vasopressor use). Areas under the receiver-operating curve for early and late multivariable models were 0.760 and 0.892, respectively. In a second analysis, patients were grouped based on the presence (n = 46) or absence (n = 104) of ICH/CE. A significant difference in FABP7 levels between patients with or without ICH/CE at early (259.7 vs. 228.2 ng/ml, p = 0.61) and late (223.8 vs. 192.0 ng/ml, p = 0.19) time points was not identified.


Serum FABP7 levels were significantly elevated at early and late time points in APAP-ALF non-survivors compared to survivors. However, significant differences in FABP7 levels by 21-day mortality were not ascertained after adjusting for significant covariates (reflecting severity of illness). Our study suggests that FABP7 may not discriminate between patients with or without intracranial complications.


ALFSG index; Liver-type fatty acid-binding protein; Multiorgan failure; Prognosis

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