Transferrin as a predictor of survival in cirrhosis

Liver Transpl. 2018 Mar;24(3):343-351. doi: 10.1002/lt.24981.


Patients with cirrhosis frequently present with high serum ferritin and low transferrin concentrations, reflecting impaired liver function and inflammation. Recent studies have shown that transferrin and its saturation with iron are Model for End-Stage Liver Disease-independent predictors of mortality in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure or decompensated cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic utility of serum iron parameters in relation to markers of liver function and immune activation. Clinical, demographic, and biochemical data were retrospectively analyzed from a cohort of 1255 consecutive patients with cirrhosis (age ≥ 18 years) who presented from August 1, 2004 until December 31, 2014 at the University Hospital of Innsbruck. Patients with malignancies at diagnosis including hepatocellular carcinoma were excluded. Survival analysis was carried out by Cox regression by using baseline laboratory parameters, and findings were validated in an independent patient cohort. During a median follow-up of 2.4 years, 193 deaths occurred and 254 patients underwent liver transplantation. In patients with transferrin < 180 mg/dL, 3-month, 1-year, and 5-year transplant-free survival estimates were significantly lower (91.7%, 79.0%, and 30.5%) when compared with the group of patients with transferrin ≥ 180 mg/dL (98.9%, 95.5%, and 68.0%, P < 0.001). Transferrin predicted transplant-free survival independently of Model for End-Stage Liver Disease-sodium (MELD-Na) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in multivariate regression analysis including all patients. When patients with alcoholic or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were excluded, transferrin was in addition an albumin-independent predictor of transplant-free survival. In conclusion, the association of transferrin with transplant-free survival is independent of MELD-Na score and CRP. In patients without fatty liver disease, transferrin also predicts survival independently of albumin. Liver Transplantation 24 343-351 2018 AASLD.

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Austria
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum Albumin, Human / analysis
  • Sodium / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Transferrin / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Transferrin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Sodium
  • Serum Albumin, Human