Background and aim: Oxidative injury occurs as a direct result of hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein expression both in vitro and in vivo, and may be due to a direct effect on mitochondria. The ketoisocaproic acid (KICA) breath test is a simple, reliable, and noninvasive test to evaluate hepatic mitochondrial function. Albumin dialysis (MARS) is an effective bridge treatment for patients with acute failure superimposed on chronic liver disease. The aim of our study was to evaluate the improvement of mitochondrial function measured by KICA in patients undergoing MARS for acute-on-chronic HCV liver failure.
Materials and methods: Five patients with HCV chronic infection undergoing MARS treatment for acute decompensation were enrolled. Before and after each MARS treatment, patients underwent blood testing for the main hematochemical parameters as well as for mitochondrial function by the KICA breath test and the arterial ketone bodies ratio (AKBR).
Results: MARS treatment effectively decreased the serum level of total bilirubin, bile acids, urea, and ammonium. Moreover, MARS treatment produced an increase in AKBR and in the cumulative percentage of (13)CO(2) recovered in exhaled air 2 hours after KICA ingestion.
Conclusion: Liver mitochondrial function appears to be beneficially affected by MARS treatment.