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Leucocyte ratios are biomarkers of mortality in patients with acute decompensation of cirrhosis and acute-on-chronic liver failure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Christine Bernsmeier, Anna Cavazza, Evangelia M. Fatourou, Eleni Theocharidou, Abisoye Akintimehin, Benjamin Baumgartner, Ameet Dhar, Georg Auzinger, Mark Thursz, William Bernal, Julia A. Wendon, Constantine J. Karvellas, Charalambos G. Antoniades, Mark J. W. McPhail

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-865
Number of pages11
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number5
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020
Published1 Sep 2020

King's Authors


Background: In patients with cirrhosis, progression to acute decompensation (AD) and acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) has been associated with poor prognosis. Differential leucocyte ratios might predict mortality in systemic inflammatory conditions. Aim: To evaluate differential leucocyte ratios as prognostic biomarkers in patients with cirrhosis. Methods: Patients with AD and ACLF were recruited from four centres in three countries. Peripheral blood differential leucocytes were measured (three centres using flow cytometry) on hospital admission and at 48 hours. Ratios were correlated to model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), chronic liver failure-sequential organ failure (CLIF-SOFA), suspected/culture-positive bacterial infection and survival. Results: Nine hundred twenty-six patients (562 (61%) male, median age 55 (25-94) years) were studied. Overall, 350 (37%) did not survive to hospital discharge. Neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and monocyte-lymphocyte ratio (MLR) were elevated in patients with AD and ACLF who died during their hospital stay. On multivariate analysis NLR retained statistical significance independently of CLIF-SOFA or MELD. NLR >30 was associated with an 80% 90-day mortality in patients with ACLF but not AD. On sensitivity analysis for subgroups (alcohol-related liver disease and suspected sepsis), NLR and MLR retained statistically robust accuracy for the prediction of mortality. Significant predictive accuracy was only observed in centres using flow cytometry. Conclusion: Leucocyte ratios are simple and robust biomarkers of outcome in ACLF, which are comparable to CLIF-SOFA score but dependent on leucocyte quantification method. NLR and MLR may be used as screening tools for mortality prediction in patients with acutely deteriorating cirrhosis.

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