[Chronic Liver Diseases in Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease]

Acta Med Croatica. 2011;65(4):349-53.
[Article in Croatian]


The morphological and functional integrity of the liver is vital to human health in general as well as to patients with renal disease. Any chronic liver disease will eventually lead to liver insufficiency. Liver enzymes are routinely measured to assess liver function in patients with or without renal failure. The use of standard reference values of aminotransferases to help detect liver disease is less useful in patients on chronic dialysis therapy. Some investigators have suggested that, to increase the sensitivity of liver function tests among dialysis patients, lower "normal" values of aminotransferases should be adopted. Liver biopsy may be helpful for assessing the activity and severity of liver disease, especially in chronic viral liver diseases. The most widely used scores are Ishak (6-point scale) and METAVIR (4-point scale). The most important chronic liver diseases associated with chronic renal disease are hepatitis B and C. Several types of renal disease have been recognized: mixed cryoglobulinemia, membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, membranous nephropathy and polyarteritis nodosa. In any patient first ever diagnosed with any of the mentioned features, serologic and molecular tests for hepatitis B and/or C should be done. There is limited information on the treatment of HBV-associated renal diseases. Nonrandomized studies suggest that antiviral therapy may be beneficial in patients with glomerular disease or vasculitis due to HBV. According to Croatian National Guidelines for Hepatitis B and C, treatment with antiviral drug is recommended for patients with chronic renal disease, especially those on the waiting list for kidney transplantation. Decision on the type and duration of treatment is based on the level of viremia and biochemical and histological activity of liver disease. Several antiviral drugs are currently used for hepatitis B: pegylated interferon alpha-2a and nucleot(z)id analogues. The choice of analogues is based on their genetic barrier and resistance. The probability to develop resistance is much higher in prolonged treatment, more than 1 year. To avoid it, regular check-ups are mandatory. First check-up is recommended after 12 weeks of treatment to detect the possible primary resistance to treatment. Similar approach is used in patients with hepatitis C. Today's standard of care is treatment with a combination of pegylated interferon alpha and ribavirin. Serum concentration of both drugs rises in patients with impaired renal function. The dosage should be corrected according to the glomerular filtration rate. Treatment with pegylated interferon alpha is not recommended in patients with glomerular filtration rate less than 15 mL/min and ribavirin less than 50 mL/min. Recent evidence suggest that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with an increased prevalence and incidence of chronic renal disease. Current treatment recommendations for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are limited to weight reduction and treatment of any component of the metabolic syndrome. Liver cirrhosis is the terminal stage of any chronic liver disease. Mortality differs according to the stage of cirrhosis evaluated with Child-Turcotte-Pugh score. The worst prognosis have patients with grade C cirrhosis, which should be borne in mind when evaluating patients with terminal renal disease for treatment with kidney transplantation.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Liver / complications*
  • Fatty Liver / therapy
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / complications*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*