Global hemostatic status in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure and septics without underlying liver disease

J Thromb Haemost. 2021 Jan;19(1):85-95. doi: 10.1111/jth.15112. Epub 2020 Nov 29.


Essentials Liver diseases are associated with profound hemostatic changes proportional to severity of illness. Hemostatic changes in acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) may in part reflect critical illness. Hemostatic changes in ACLF partly overlap with those in sepsis, with rebalanced hemostasis in both. Patients with sepsis had hyperfibrinogenemia, associated with a thrombogenic clot structure. ABSTRACT: Background Even the sickest patients with chronic liver disease (CLD), such as those with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) remain in hemostatic balance due to a concomitant decline in pro- and antihemostatic factors. Objectives We aimed to study whether the hemostatic status in ACLF is merely an exaggeration from the status in patients with compensated and acutely decompensated cirrhosis, or whether sepsis-associated hemostatic changes contribute. Methods We performed extensive hemostatic profiling in 31 adult patients with ACLF, 20 patients with sepsis without underlying CLD, and 40 healthy controls. Results We found similarly elevated plasma levels of the platelet adhesive protein von Willebrand factor (VWF) and decreased levels of the VWF-regulating protease ADAMTS13 in both groups compared to healthy controls. In vivo markers of activation of coagulation (thrombin-antithrombin III, D-dimer) were similarly elevated in both groups compared to controls, but ex vivo thrombin-generating capacity was similar between patients and controls, despite a much more profound international normalized ratio elevation in ACLF. Plasma fibrinogen levels were much higher in septics, which was accompanied by a decreased ex vivo clot permeability and an increase in ex vivo resistance to clot lysis. All hemostatic parameters were remarkably stable over the first 10 days after admission. Conclusions We have found hemostatic changes in ACLF to partially overlap with that of patients with sepsis, and evidence of preserved hemostatic capacity in both patient groups. The notable difference was a profound hyperfibrinogenemia, associated with a thrombogenic clot structure and a marked ex vivo resistance to fibrinolysis in patients with sepsis.

Keywords: cirrhosis; coagulation; fibrinogen; fibrinolysis; intensive care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / diagnosis
  • Adult
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Hemostasis
  • Hemostatics*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis


  • Hemostatics