Transient elastography and von Willebrand factor as predictors of portal hypertension and decompensation in children

Akshat Goel, Robert Hegarty, Shweta Dixit, Bethany Tucker, Abdel Douiri, Eirini Kyrana, Vandana Jain, Anil Dhawan, Tassos Grammatikopoulos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & Aims: Von Willebrand factor antigen (vWFAg), a protein measured to test the level of vWF released from the vascular endothelium has gained much attention as a marker for portal hypertension (PHT) severity. The objectives of this study were to investigate the use of vWFAg as a biomarker along with liver and spleen stiffness measurements by transient elastography as potential predictors of clinically significant varices (CSV), variceal bleeding (VB) and decompensation in children with PHT. Methods: This observational prospective cohort study included 117 children (median age 10 [IQR 6-14] years) who underwent oesophagogastroduodenoscopy between January’2012 to November’2021 and a validation group of 33 children who underwent the same procedure between December’2021 to March’2023. Measurements of vWFAg and glycoprotein Ib binding activity of VWF (GPIbR) were available in 97 patients in the study group and in all patients in the validation group. Results: vWFAg and GPIbR were significantly higher in children with CSV (223 IU/dl and 166 IU/dl; p = 0.015 and p = 0.04, respectively) and VB (218 IU/dl and 174 IU/dl; p = 0.077 and p = 0.03, respectively) than in those without CSV or VB, respectively. Ninety-six patients had liver and spleen stiffness measurements. Spleen stiffness was significantly higher in patients with CSV compared to those without CSV (p = 0.003). In a chronic liver disease subgroup, a predictive scoring tool based on vWFAg, GPIbR, platelet count, and spleen/liver stiffness measurements could predict CSV with an AUROC of 0.76 (p = 0.04). Conclusions: This study suggests the predictive value of vWF for CSV and VB increases when combined with spleen stiffness, with AUROCs of 0.88 and 0.82, respectively. Hence, a combination of biomarkers could assist clinicians in diagnosing CSV, preventing unnecessary invasive procedures. Impacts and implications: Surveillance endoscopies in children with portal hypertension (PHT) have their own risks and non-invasive markers, such as von Willebrand factor antigen, glycoprotein Ib binding activity of VWF (GPIbR), and transient elastography could be used to predict clinically significant varices, variceal bleeding and disease compensation in children with PHT. Such non-invasive markers for PHT and varices are lacking in the paediatric population. The results show that von Willebrand factor and GPIbR along with transient elastography can be used to formulate a scoring system which can be used as a clinical tool by paediatric hepatologists to monitor the progression of PHT and risk of bleeding, and hence to stratify the performance of invasive endoscopic procedures under general anaesthesia. However, there is a need to validate the scoring system in children with portal vein thrombosis and for hepatic decompensation in a multi-centre registry in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100935
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number12
Early online date12 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Biomarkers
  • Clinically significant varices
  • Liver Stiffness
  • Spleen Stiffness
  • Variceal Bleeding


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