Renal dysfunction independently predicts muscle mass loss in patients following liver transplantation

Can Liver J. 2022 Aug 16;5(3):411-423. doi: 10.3138/canlivj-2021-0042. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Background: Liver transplantation (LT) is the only curative treatment for cirrhosis. However, the presence of complications can impact outcomes following LT. Sarcopenia, or muscle mass loss, is highly prevalent in patients with cirrhosis and is associated with longer hospitalization stays and a higher infection rate post-surgery. We aimed to identify patients at higher risk of early sarcopenia post-LT.

Methods: This retrospective study included 79 cirrhotic patients who underwent LT. Muscle mass was evaluated using the third lumbar spine vertebra skeletal muscle index (SMI) and sarcopenia was defined using established cut-off values. Computerized tomography (CT) scans performed within a six-month peri-operative period (three months pre- and post-LT) were included in the study. Complications and comorbidities were collected and correlated to SMI post-LT and predictive models for SMI post-LT were constructed.

Results: The overall prevalence of sarcopenia was 46% and 62% before and after LT, respectively. Newly developed sarcopenia was found in 42% of patients. Post-LT sarcopenia was associated with longer hospital stays (54±37 versus 29±10 days, p = 0.002), higher number of infection (3±1 versus 1±2, p = 0.027), and greater number of complications (5±2 versus 3±2, p < 0.001) compared to absence of sarcopenia. Multivariate analyses showed that the SMI post-LT was independently associated with pre-LT renal function markers, the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and creatinine (Model 1, GFR: β = 0.33; 95% CI 0.04-0.17; p = 0.003; Model 2, Creatinine: β = -0.29; 95% CI -0.10 to -0.02; p = 0.009).

Conclusions: The present study highlights the potential role of renal dysfunction in the development and persistence of sarcopenia after LT.

Keywords: cirrhosis; liver transplantation; renal dysfunction; sarcopenia.