BACKGROUND & AIMS:
Infections are life-threatening to patients with acute decompensation and acute-on-chronic liver failure (AD/ACLF). Patients with AD/ACLF have prostaglandin E2-mediated immune suppression, which can be reversed by administration of albumin; infusion of 20% human albumin solution (HAS) might improve outcomes of infections. We performed a feasibility study to determine optimal trial design, assess safety, and validate laboratory assessments of immune function to inform design of a phase 3 trial.
We performed a prospective multicenter, single-arm, open-label trial of 79 patients with AD/ACLF and levels of albumin lower than 30 g/L, seen at 10 hospitals in the United Kingdom from May through December 2015. Patients were given daily infusions of 20% HAS, based on serum levels, for 14 days or until discharge from the hospital. Rates of infection, organ dysfunction, and in-hospital mortality were recorded. The primary end point was daily serum albumin level during the treatment period. Success would be demonstrated if 60% achieved and maintained serum albumin levels at or above 30 g/L on at least one third of days with recorded levels.
The patients' mean model for end-stage disease score was 20.9 ± 6.6. The primary end point (albumin ≥30 g/L on at least one third of days recorded) was achieved by 68 of the 79 patients; 75% of administrations were in accordance with suggested dosing regimen. Mean treatment duration was 10.3 days (104 ± 678 mL administered). There were 8 deaths and 13 serious adverse events, considered by the independent data-monitoring committee to be consistent with those expected. Twelve of 13 patients that developed either respiratory or cardiovascular dysfunction (based on ward-based clinical definitions) as their only organ dysfunction were alive at 30 days compared with 1 of 3 that developed renal dysfunction. Only 1 case of brain dysfunction was recorded.
In a feasibility trial, we found that administration of HAS increased serum levels of albumin in patients with AD/ACLF. The dosing regimen was acceptable at multiple sites and deemed safe by an independent data-monitoring committee. We also developed a robust system to record infections. The poor prognosis for patients with renal dysfunction was confirmed. However, patients with cardiovascular or respiratory dysfunction had good outcomes, which is counterintuitive. Severe encephalopathy appeared substantially under-reported, indicating that ward-based assessment of these parameters cannot be recorded with sufficient accuracy for use as a primary outcome in phase 3 trials. Trial registration no: EudraCT 2014-002300-24 and ISRCTN14174793.
- Immune Response