Liver fibrosis markers in alcoholic liver disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jul 7;20(25):8018-23. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i25.8018.


Alcohol is one of the main factors of liver damage. The evaluation of the degree of liver fibrosis is of great value for therapeutic decision making in patients with alcoholic liver disease (ALD). Staging of liver fibrosis is essential to define prognosis and management of the disease. Liver biopsy is a gold standard as it has high sensitivity and specificity in fibrosis diagnostics. Taking into account the limitations of liver biopsy, there is an exigency to introduce non-invasive serum markers for fibrosis that would be able to replace liver biopsy. Ideal serum markers should be specific for the liver, easy to perform and independent to inflammation and fibrosis in other organs. Serum markers of hepatic fibrosis are divided into direct and indirect. Indirect markers reflect alterations in hepatic function, direct markers reflect extracellular matrix turnover. These markers should correlate with dynamic changes in fibrogenesis and fibrosis resolution. The assessment of the degree of liver fibrosis in alcoholic liver disease has diagnostic and prognostic implications, therefore noninvasive assessment of fibrosis remains important. There are only a few studies evaluating the diagnostic and prognostic values of noninvasive biomarkers of fibrosis in patients with ALD. Several noninvasive laboratory tests have been used to assess liver fibrosis in patients with alcoholic liver disease, including the hyaluronic acid, FibroTest, FibrometerA, Hepascore, Forns and APRI indexes, FIB4, an algorithm combining Prothrombin index (PI), α-2 macroglobulin and hyaluronic acid. Among these tests, Fibrotest, FibrometerA and Hepascore demonstrated excellent diagnostic accuracy in identifying advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, and additionally, Fibrotest was independently associated with survival. Therefore, the use of biomarkers may reduce the need for liver biopsy and permit an earlier treatment of alcoholic patients.

Keywords: Alcoholic liver disease; Liver fibrosis markers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biopsy
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / diagnosis*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / pathology
  • Liver Function Tests*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers