What is it and can it treat liver disease?

Artificial liver support systems can simulate certain functions of a person’s liver. They can be used as a bridge treatment for people with liver disease until they recover or receive a transplant.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.8% of the population in the United States has liver disease.

The liver is a vital organ that controls many important physiological processes. Acute liver disease can often be life-threatening and cause a person’s quality of life to deteriorate.

This article explains what artificial liver treatment is and explores current research, who may need an artificial liver, tips for a healthy liver, and when to see a doctor.

Artificial liver support systems are an emerging treatment option for people with severe liver disease.

Acute liver failure (ALF) is a serious condition with high morbidity and mortality. Both The most common the causes of ALF are drug-induced lesions and hepatitis A or E.

Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is another condition that causes deterioration of liver function and very high mortality.

Liver transplantation is currently the only definitive treatment approach for ALF and ACLF. However, the low transplant success rate and limited donor availability have led researchers to develop other treatment options.

One such approach is artificial liver support systems. These can serve as a bridge to support someone with ALF or ACLF until a donor becomes available or their liver function improves.

liver function

The liver is a dynamic organ that performs several essential functions. It includes approx. 2% of a person’s body weight, interacts with almost all organ systems of the body and plays multifunctional roles.

Some of the main functions of the liver to understand:

  • Production of bile: This helps in the absorption of fats and certain vitamins.
  • Production of blood plasma: The liver does this by producing certain proteins.
  • Production of cholesterol: It also produces special proteins to help transport fat around the body.
  • Conversion of excess glucose (blood sugar) into glycogen: The body can store it and convert it back into glucose to produce energy when needed.
  • Breakdown of red blood cells into bilirubin: Bilirubin is a yellowish substance found in bile.
  • Clean the blood of drugs and toxins: The liver helps filter toxic and harmful substances from the blood.
  • Regulates blood clotting: It also regulates blood clotting by producing certain plasma proteins.

Types of Liver Support Systems

Similar to hemodialysis in the treatment of kidney failure, artificial liver support systems are therapeutic devices that help perform liver functions in people with liver damage. The process is similar to kidney dialysis in that a person’s blood is filtered through a machine via an IV line.

There are two types of liver support systems, artificial and bioartificial. Artificial support systems use devices capable of removing toxins by absorption or filtration. The bioartificial systems help in the auto-regeneration of the liver as well as in the elimination of toxins.

The four most common artificial support systems include:

  • molecular adsorbent recirculation system (MARS)
  • fractionated plasma separation and adsorption system (Prometheus)
  • single-pass albumin dialysis (SPAD)
  • selective plasma filtration therapy

Jan Stange and his colleagues developed MARS, the most studied artificial system, in the early 1990s.

A study 2020 reports that MARS has the highest survival rate for people with ALF and ACLF, followed by Prometheus and SPAD.

Another one recent study suggests that MARS is the best treatment option for reducing hospital mortality in people with ALF.

However, since most of these studies involve small population samples, the results might not be generalizable for large, diverse populations. Most of these systems are also expensive.

Further research is needed to overcome these limitations and develop safe and effective artificial support systems to treat acute liver disease.

People with ALF or ACLF most often require artificial liver treatment before undergoing a liver transplant or to improve liver function.

Liver failure often leads to cirrhosis, most commonly due to long-term problematic alcohol use or chronic hepatitis C. Other less common causes of cirrhosis include:

People with acute liver diseases resulting in cirrhosis and people with liver cancer may also require artificial liver treatment.

Here are some tips that can help people maintain a healthy liver:

  • eating a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and rice
  • maintain a moderate weight
  • exercise regularly
  • avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption
  • avoiding illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and others
  • avoid sharing personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers
  • practice safer sex
  • get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B
  • avoid contact with another person’s blood

A person should talk to a doctor if they have symptoms of liver failure, such as:

People should do this as soon as possible because early diagnosis and treatment can prevent liver failure.

Learn more about the symptoms of liver disease.

Artificial liver treatments are support systems for people with acute or acute-on-chronic liver failure. They can serve as a gateway to liver transplantation or enable the recovery of liver function. There are two types of liver support systems: artificial and bioartificial.

Although some studies highlight the effectiveness of artificial liver treatments in improving survival rates for people with liver failure, further research is needed to evaluate their use in a broader population and improve the functionality of liver systems. liver support.

It is important that people with symptoms of liver failure or acute liver disease seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid serious complications.

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