Elevated Serum Liver-Type Fatty Acid Binding Protein Levels in Non-acetaminophen Acute Liver Failure Patients with Organ Dysfunction

Dig Dis Sci. 2021 Jan;66(1):273-283. doi: 10.1007/s10620-020-06166-w. Epub 2020 Mar 3.


Background: Liver-type fatty acid binding protein (FABP1) has previously been demonstrated to improve prognostic discrimination in acetaminophen (APAP)-induced ALF but has not been investigated in other etiologies of ALF.

Aim: To determine whether FABP1 levels (early: admission or late: days 3-5) are associated with 21-day transplant-free survival in non-APAP ALF.

Methods: FABP1 was measured in serum samples from 384 ALF patients (n = 88 transplant-free survivors (TFS), n = 296 died/LT-NTFS) using solid-phase enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and analyzed with US ALFSG registry data.

Results: Of 384 ALF patients (autoimmune hepatitis n = 125, drug-induced liver injury n = 141, Hepatitis B n = 118), 177 (46%) patients received LT. Early FABP1 levels were significantly higher in ALF patients requiring vasopressor support (203.4 vs. 76.3 ng/mL) and renal replacement therapy (203.4 vs. 78.8 ng/mL; p < 0.001 for both). Late FABP1 levels were significantly higher in patients requiring mechanical ventilation (77.5 vs. 53.3 ng/mL), vasopressor support (116.4 vs. 53.3 ng/mL) and in patients with grade 3/4 hepatic encephalopathy (71.4 vs. 51.4 ng/mL; p = 0.03 for all). Late FABP1 levels were significantly lower in TFS patients (TFS 54 vs. NTFS 66 ng/mL; p = 0.049) but not admission (TFS 96 vs. NTFS 87 ng/mL; p = 0.67). After adjusting for significant covariates, serum FABP1 did not discriminate significantly between TFS and patients who died/received LT at day 21 either on admission (p = 0.29) or late (days 3-5, p = 0.087) time points.

Conclusion: In this first report of FABP1 in non-APAP ALF, FABP1 levels at late time points (days 3-5) were significantly lower in ALF patients who were alive without transplant at day 21 but not after adjusting for covariates reflecting severity of illness. Higher FABP1 levels were associated with the presence of increased organ failure.

Keywords: ALFSG index; Acute liver failure; Liver-type fatty acid binding protein; Multiorgan failure; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen*
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / blood*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / blood*
  • Multiple Organ Failure / diagnosis*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Biomarkers
  • FABP1 protein, human
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Acetaminophen