Moreau R, Clària J, Aguilar F, Fenaille F, Lozano JJ, Junot c, Colsch B, Caraceni P, Trebicka J, Pavesi M, Alessandria C, Nevens F, Saliba F, Welzel TM, Albillos A, Gustot T, Fernández J, Moreno C, Baldassarre M, Zaccherini G, Piano S, Montagnese S, Vargas V, Genescà J, Solà E, Bernal W, Butin H, Hautbergue T, Cholet S, Caselli F. Jansen C, Steib C, Campion D, Mookerjee R, Rodríguez-Gandía M, Soriano G, Durand F, Benten D, Bañares R, Stauber RE25, Gronbaek H26, Coenraad MJ27, Ginès P16, Gerbes A19, Jalan R28, Bernardi M6, Arroyo V3, Angeli P29; CANONIC Study Investigators of the EASL Clif Consortium; Grifols Chair; European Foundation for the Study of Chronic Liver Failure (EF Clif)
Journal of Hepatology
Background & aims: Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), which develops in patients with cirrhosis, is characterized by intense systemic inflammation and organ failure(s). Because systemic inflammation is energetically expensive, its metabolic costs may result in organ dysfunction/failure. Therefore, we aimed to analyze the blood metabolome in patients with cirrhosis, with and without ACLF.
Methods: We performed untargeted metabolomics using liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry in serum from 650 patients with AD (acute decompensation of cirrhosis, without ACLF), 181 with ACLF, 43 with compensated cirrhosis, and 29 healthy individuals.
Results: Of the 137 annotated metabolites identified, 100 were increased in patients with ACLF of any grade, relative to those with AD, and 38 comprised a distinctive blood metabolite fingerprint for ACLF. Among patients with ACLF, the intensity of the fingerprint increased across ACLF grades, and was similar in patients with kidney failure and in those without, indicating that the fingerprint reflected not only decreased kidney excretion but also altered cell metabolism. The higher the ACLF-associated fingerprint intensity, the higher the plasma levels of inflammatory markers, tumor necrosis factor α, soluble CD206, and soluble CD163. ACLF was characterized by intense proteolysis and lipolysis; amino acid catabolism; extra-mitochondrial glucose metabolism through glycolysis, pentose phosphate, and D-glucuronate pathways; depressed mitochondrial ATP-producing fatty acid β-oxidation; and extra-mitochondrial amino acid metabolism giving rise to metabotoxins.
Conclusions: In ACLF, intense systemic inflammation is associated with blood metabolite accumulation and profound alterations in major metabolic pathways, in particular inhibition of mitochondrial energy production, which may contribute to the development of organ failures.
Lay summary: Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), which develops in patients with cirrhosis, is characterized by intense systemic inflammation and organ failure(s). Because systemic inflammation is energetically expensive, its metabolic costs may result in organ dysfunction/failure. We identified a 38-metabolite blood fingerprint specific for ACLF that revealed mitochondrial dysfunction in peripheral organs. This may contribute to organ failures.