Elevated serum levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein are associated with covert hepatic encephalopathy in patients with cirrhosis

Simon Johannes Gairing, Sven Danneberg, Leonard Kaps, Michael Nagel, Eva Maria Schleicher, Charlotte Quack, Sinah Engel, Stefan Bittner, Peter Robert Galle, Jörn Markus Schattenberg, Marcus Alexander Wörns, Felix Luessi, Jens Uwe Marquardt, Christian Labenz*

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit

Abstract

Background & Aims: Blood biomarkers facilitating the diagnosis of covert hepatic encephalopathy (CHE) in patients with cirrhosis are lacking. Astrocyte swelling is a major component of hepatic encephalopathy. Thus, we hypothesised that glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), the major intermediate filament of astrocytes, might facilitate early diagnosis and management. This study aimed to investigate the utility of serum GFAP (sGFAP) levels as a biomarker of CHE. Methods: In this bicentric study, 135 patients with cirrhosis, 21 patients with ongoing harmful alcohol use and cirrhosis, and 15 healthy controls were recruited. CHE was diagnosed using psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score. sGFAP levels were measured using a highly sensitive single-molecule array (SiMoA) immunoassay. Results: In total, 50 (37%) people presented with CHE at study inclusion. Participants with CHE displayed significantly higher sGFAP levels than those without CHE (median sGFAP, 163 pg/ml [IQR 136; 268] vs. 106 pg/ml [IQR 75; 153]; p <0.001) or healthy controls (p <0.001). sGFAP correlated with results in psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score (Spearman's ρ = −0.326, p <0.001), model for end-stage liver disease score (Spearman's ρ = 0.253, p = 0.003), ammonia (Spearman's ρ = 0.453, p = 0.002), and IL-6 serum levels (Spearman's ρ = 0.323, p = 0.006). Additionally, sGFAP levels were independently associated with the presence of CHE in multivariable logistic regression analysis (odds ratio 1.009; 95% CI 1.004–1.015; p <0.001). sGFAP levels did not differ between patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis vs. patients with non-alcohol-related cirrhosis or between patients with ongoing alcohol use vs. patients with discontinued alcohol use. Conclusions: sGFAP levels are associated with CHE in patients with cirrhosis. These results suggest that astrocyte injury may already occur in patients with cirrhosis and subclinical cognitive deficits and that sGFAP could be explored as a novel biomarker. Impact and implications: Blood biomarkers facilitating the diagnosis of covert hepatic encephalopathy (CHE) in patients with cirrhosis are lacking. In this study, we were able to demonstrate that sGFAP levels are associated with CHE in patients with cirrhosis. These results suggest that astrocyte injury may already occur in patients with cirrhosis and subclinical cognitive deficits and that sGFAP could be explored as a novel biomarker.

OriginalspracheEnglisch
Aufsatznummer100671
ZeitschriftJHEP Reports
Jahrgang5
Ausgabenummer4
Seiten (von - bis)100671
ISSN2589-5559
DOIs
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 04.2023

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