Low sphingolipid levels predict poor survival in patients with alcohol-related liver disease

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Background & Aims: Alcohol-related hepatitis (AH) and alcohol-related cirrhosis are grave conditions with poor prognoses. Altered hepatic lipid metabolism can impact disease development and varies between different alcohol-related liver diseases. Therefore, we aimed to investigate lipidomics and metabolomics at various stages of alcohol-related liver diseases and their correlation with survival. Methods: Patients with newly diagnosed alcohol-related cirrhosis, who currently used alcohol (ALC-A), stable outpatients with decompensated alcohol-related cirrhosis with at least 8 weeks of alcohol abstinence (ALC), and patients with AH, were compared with each other and with healthy controls (HC). Circulating lipids and metabolites were analysed using HPLC and mass spectrometry. Results: Forty patients with ALC, 95 with ALC-A, 30 with AH, and 42 HC provided plasma. Lipid levels changed according to disease severity, with generally lower levels in AH and cirrhosis than in the HC group; this was most pronounced for AH, followed by ALC-A. Nine out of 10 free fatty acids differed between cirrhosis groups by relative increases of 0.12–0.66 in ALC compared with the ALC-A group (p <0.0005). For metabolomics, total bile acids increased by 19.7, 31.3, and 80.4 in the ALC, ALC-A, and AH groups, respectively, compared with HC (all p <0.0001). Low sphingolipid ([d42:1] and [d41:1]) levels could not predict 180-day mortality (AUC = 0.73, p = 0.95 and AUC = 0.73, p = 0.95) more accurately than the model for end-stage liver disease score (AUC = 0.71), but did predict 90-day mortality (AUC d42:1 = 0.922, AUC d41:1 = 0.893; p d42:1 = 0.005, p d41:1 = 0.007) more accurately than the MELD score AUCMELD = 0.70, pMELD = 0.19). Conclusions: Alcohol-related severe liver disease is characterised by low lipid levels progressing with severity of liver disease, especially low sphingomyelins, which also associate to poor prognoses. Impact and implications: Lipidomics has the potential to diagnose and risk stratify patients with liver diseases. Lipidomics differed between patients with alcohol-related hepatitis and alcohol-related cirrhosis with and without recent alcohol use. Furthermore, lipidomics could predict short-term mortality and might be suitable as a prognostic tool in the future. Clinical Trials Registration: Scientific Ethics Committee of the Capital Region of Denmark, journal no. H-21013476.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100953
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Alcohol-related cirrhosis, Alcohol-related hepatitis, Free fatty acids, Lipidomics, Triglycerides

ID: 380294983