Therapeutic apheresis and dialysis vol:13 issue:5 pages:384-392
Liver failure, irrespective of is cause, is frequently associated with multi-organ dysfunction, including hemodynamic instability, and renal and cerebral insufficiency. As a result of the combined impact of these complications, liver failure carries an exceptionally high risk of mortality. A central role in the etiopathogenesis of different end-organ manifestations, as well as in the aggravation of the underlying liver failure, has been attributed to the hyperdynamic (hypotensive) state, which is characterized by a reduced systemic vascular resistance and mean arterial pressure, as well as an increased cardiac index, heart rate, and total plasma volume. Since the accumulation of toxins due to the decreased detoxification capacity by the failing liver is considered vital herein, the emergence of extracorporeal liver support has provided a rational basis for the potential reversal of these phenomena. The present article critically reviews data with regard to the hemodynamic effects of artificial liver support in the context of liver failure. Although these are scarce for acute liver failure, several uncontrolled series and small randomized trials have clearly documented that artificial liver support is able to improve both portal hypertension and the associated systemic circulatory dysfunction in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure. The molecular basis for these effects have been related to temporary changes and/or elimination in endogenous vasoactive substances, improved albumin binding capacity, or restoration of oxidative stress-mediated damage to albumin.