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Original research
Novel prognostic biomarkers in decompensated cirrhosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Background Patients with decompensated cirrhosis experience high mortality rates. Current prognostic scores, including the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), may underperform in settings other than in those they were initially developed. Novel biomarkers have been proposed to improve prognostication accuracy and even to predict development of complications.

Methods We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on novel urine and blood biomarkers and their ability to predict 90-day mortality in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Secondary outcomes included 28-day and 1-year mortality, and development of acute-on-chronic liver failure, acute kidney injury and other complications. To overcome differences in units, temporal changes in assays and reporting heterogeneity, we used the ratio of means (RoM) as measure of association for assessing strength in predicting outcomes. An RoM>1 implies that the mean biomarker level is higher in those that develop the outcome than in those that do not.

Results Of 6629 unique references, 103 were included, reporting on 29 different biomarkers, with a total of 31 362 biomarker patients. Most studies were prospective cohorts of hospitalised patients (median Child-Pugh-Turcotte score of 9 and MELD score of 18). The pooled 90-day mortality rate was 0.27 (95% CI 0.24 to 0.29). The RoM for predicting 90-day mortality was highest for interleukin 6 (IL-6) (2.56, 95% CI 2.39 to 2.74), followed by urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (uNGAL) (2.42, 95% CI 2.20 to 2.66) and copeptin (2.33, 95% CI 2.17 to 2.50). These RoMs were all higher than for MELD (1.44, 95% CI 1.42 to 1.46).

Conclusion Novel biomarkers, including IL-6, uNGAL and copeptin, can probably improve prognostication of patients with decompensated cirrhosis compared with MELD alone.

  • liver cirrhosis

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, (PG), on reasonable request.

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