Similarities, Differences, and Potential Synergies in the Mechanism of Action of Albumin Dialysis Using the MARS Albumin Dialysis Device and the CytoSorb Hemoperfusion Device in the Treatment of Liver Failure

Blood Purif. 2021;50(1):119-128. doi: 10.1159/000508810. Epub 2020 Jul 2.


Introduction: Liver failure is characterized by compromised hepatic detoxification, protein synthesis, and metabolic derangements leading to an accumulation of a broad spectrum of water-soluble and lipophilic toxins as well as immune system mediators. Exploring complex detoxification mechanisms to therapeutically target those components, this article will focus on similarities, differences, and potential synergies in the mechanism of albumin dialysis and hemoperfusion.

Methods: An in vitro two-compartment model for the comparison of liver support techniques was used to compare MARS albumin dialysis modified with novel charcoal adsorbents to CytoSorb hemoperfusion with added hemodialysis for effects on marker molecule removal.

Results: MARS and CytoSorb performed similar in the removal of water-soluble toxins. Ammonia removal was increased using CytoSorb. CytoSorb lead to a statistically significant reduction of albumin-bound toxins, total bilirubin and subfractions. Bile acid removal was comparable. MARS demonstrated no removal of cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), whereas CytoSorb allowed for near complete removal. Notably, CytoSorb displayed 50% of lipophilic substance and cytokine removal during the first hour of treatment.

Conclusion: Compared to MARS, CytoSorb hemoperfusion leads to an initially fast removal of cytokines, TNF-α and IL-6, as well as reduction of albumin-bound toxins such as indirect bilirubin and bile acids in our model. The initial removal is also associated with removal of albumin.

Keywords: Albumin dialysis; CytoSorb®; Extracorporeal liver support; Hemoperfusion; MARS®.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hemoperfusion*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Liver Failure* / blood
  • Liver Failure* / therapy
  • Models, Biological*
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Serum Albumin, Human / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Serum Albumin, Human