An Update on Pediatric Acute Liver Failure: Emerging Understanding of the Impact of Immune Dysregulation and Novel Opportunities for Intervention

Clin Liver Dis. 2022 Aug;26(3):461-471. doi: 10.1016/j.cld.2022.03.007. Epub 2022 Jun 25.


Pediatric acute liver failure (PALF) is a complex, unpredictable, often rapidly progressive, potentially devastating clinical syndrome that occurs in infants, children, and adolescents without pre-existing liver disease. PALF is characterized by acute onset of hepatocellular injury and liver-based coagulopathy, frequently accompanied by hepatic encephalopathy. Etiologies include drug and toxin exposures, metabolic and genetic disorders, infections, and immune-mediated disease. PALF management primarily involves early contact with and consideration of transfer to a pediatric liver transplant center and intensive supportive multidisciplinary clinical care, with targeted therapies available for a subset of causes. Outcomes include survival with native liver, death, and liver transplantation. Efforts to develop reliable clinical prognostic tools to predict PALF outcomes early in the course of disease have not yet been fulfilled, and the possibility remains that some transplanted PALF patients might have survived without transplantation.

Keywords: Immune dysregulation; Indeterminate diagnosis; Pediatric acute liver failure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy* / complications
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver Failure, Acute* / etiology
  • Liver Failure, Acute* / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Prognosis