Prognostic impact of sarcopenia in cirrhotic patients stratified by different severity of portal hypertension

Liver Int. 2021 Apr;41(4):799-809. doi: 10.1111/liv.14758. Epub 2020 Dec 22.


Background and aims: Portal hypertension (PH) and sarcopenia are common in patients with advanced chronic liver disease (ACLD). However, the interaction between PH and sarcopenia and their specific and independent impact on prognosis and mortality has yet to be systematically investigated in patients with ACLD.

Methods: Consecutive patients with ACLD and hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) ≥10 mm Hg with available CT/MRI imaging were included. Sarcopenia was defined by transversal psoas muscle thickness (TPMT) at <12 mm/m in men and <8 mm/m in women at the level of the third lumbar vertebrae. Hepatic decompensation and mortality was recorded during follow-up.

Results: Among 203 patients (68% male, age: 55 ± 11, model for end-stage liver disease [MELD]: 12 [9-15]), sarcopenia was observed in 77 (37.9%) and HVPG was ≥20 mm Hg in 98 (48.3%). There was no correlation between TPMT and HVPG (r = .031, P = .66), median HVPG was not different between patients with vs without sarcopenia (P = .211). Sarcopenia was significantly associated with first/further decompensation both in compensated (SHR: 3.05, P = .041) and in decompensated patients (SHR: 1.86, P = .021). Furthermore, sarcopenia (SARC) was a significant predictor of mortality irrespective of HVPG (HVPG < 20-SARC: SHR: 2.25, P = .021; HVPG ≥ 20-SARC: SHR: 3.33, P = .001). On multivariate analysis adjusted for age, HVPG and MELD, sarcopenia was an independent risk factor for mortality (aHR: 1.99, 95% confidence interval: 1.2-3.3, P = .007).

Conclusion: Sarcopenia has a major impact on clinical outcomes both in compensated and in decompensated ACLD patients. The presence of sarcopenia doubled the risk for mortality independently from the severity of PH.

Keywords: advanced chronic liver disease; cirrhosis; hepatic venous pressure gradient; muscle wasting; portal hypertension; sarcopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • End Stage Liver Disease*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal* / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Portal Pressure
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcopenia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Sarcopenia* / epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index