Albumin: pathophysiologic basis of its role in the treatment of cirrhosis and its complications.
Hepatology. 2013 Nov;58(5):1836-46
Authors: Garcia-Martinez R, Caraceni P, Bernardi M, Gines P, Arroyo V, Jalan R
Since the introduction of human serum albumin as a plasma expander in the 1940s, considerable research has allowed a better understanding of its biochemical properties and potential clinical benefits. Albumin has a complex structure, which is responsible for a variety of biological functions. In disease, the albumin molecule is susceptible to modifications that may alter its biological activity. During the last decades, different methods to measure albumin function have been developed. Recent studies have shown that not only albumin concentration but also albumin function is reduced in liver failure. This observation led to the concept of effective albumin concentration, which represents the fact that plasma albumin concentration does not reflect its function. Indeed, in liver disease albumin function is several times less than its concentration. In patients with cirrhosis, albumin infusion reduces mortality in patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and improves outcome following large volume paracentesis. In combination with vasoconstrictors, albumin is useful in the management of patients with hepatorenal syndrome. Its role is being investigated in a large number of indications, which rely on its volume and nonvolume expansion functions such as stroke, severe sepsis, Alzheimer's disease, malaria, burns, and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This review explores the above concepts, reviews the available evidence for the use of albumin in liver diseases, defines therapeutic limitations, and explores the challenges that should be addressed in future research.
PMID: 23423799 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]