Effect of N-Acetylcysteine on Mortality and Liver Transplantation Rate in Non-Acetaminophen-Induced Acute Liver Failure: A Multicenter Study
Introduction and Aim
Previous studies and systematic reviews have not provided conclusive evidence on the effect of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in non-acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure (NAI-ALF). We aimed to study the value of intravenous NAC in reducing liver transplantation and mortality in NAI-ALF.
Patients and Methods
In a prospective, multicenter, observational study, acute liver failure patients without clinical or historical evidence of acetaminophen overdose were enrolled. NAC infusion (in empirical dose) was given as 150 mg/kg in 100 ml dextrose 5% over half an hour, then 70 mg/kg in 500 ml dextrose 5% over 4 h, then 70 mg/kg in 500 ml dextrose 5% over 16 h. Thereafter continuous infusion was administered over 24 h of 150 mg/kg in 500 ml dextrose 5% until up to two consecutive normal international normalized ratios (INRs) were obtained. Our endpoints were recovery, transplantation, or death. The primary outcome of the study was to assess reduction in mortality or liver transplantation. The secondary outcome was the evaluation of other clinical outcomes (length of ICU and hospital stays, organ system failure, and hepatic encephalopathy).
The study included a total of 155 adults; the NAC group (n = 85) were given NAC between January 2011 to December 2013 and the control group (n = 70) were not given NAC and were included from files dating between 2010 and 2011. Both groups (before NAC) were comparable with regard to etiology, age, sex, smoking, presence of co-morbidities, encephalopathy, liver profile, and INR. The success rate (transplant-free survival) in the NAC group was 96.4%. While in the control group, 17 patients (23.3%) recovered and 53 (76.6%) did not recover, of these 37 (53.3%) had liver transplantation and 16 (23.3%) died (p < 0.01). The NAC group had significantly shorter hospital stays (p < 0.001), less encephalopathy (p = 0.02), and less bleeding (p < 0.01) than the control group. The control group reported a higher ICU admission (p = 0.01) rate and abnormal creatinine and electrolytes (p = 0.002, p < 0.01, respectively). Liver profile and INR (after NAC infusion) differed significantly between the two groups with regard to bilirubin (increased in controls, p = 0.02), AST and INR (decreased in NAC group, p < 0.001 for both), but the ALT decrease showed no statistical significance between the two groups.
When administered on admission, intravenous NAC caused a reduction in NAI-ALF mortality and need for transplantation. NAC decreased encephalopathy, hospital stay, ICU admission, and failure of other organs.
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