Vasoconstrictor Therapy for Hepatorenal Syndrome in Liver Cirrhosis
L. E. Schmidt,
Hepatorenal syndrome is a severe, but not uncommon complication of decompensated liver cirrhosis. In particular, the rapidly progressive form of hepatorenal syndrome (type 1) is associated with a dismal prognosis. Established hepatorenal syndrome has a spontaneous reversibility below 5%. Hepatorenal syndrome is involved in more than 50% of cirrhosis-related mortality. Thus, any treatment capable of reversing hepatorenal syndrome would be expected to reduce morbidity and mortality from liver cirrhosis. A pathophysiological hallmark of hepatorenal syndrome is arterial underfilling due to an extreme splanchnic vasodilatation. Consequently, potent vasoconstrictors capable of reversing this vasodilatation have been investigated in hepatorenal syndrome. Several vasoconstrictors including the α-adrenergic agonists, midodrine and noradrenalin, and the vasopressor analogues, ornipressin and terlipressin, have all been associated with a significant improvement in renal function in 57 to 100% of cases and even reversal of hepatorenal syndrome in 42 to 100% of cases. The majority of recent studies are on terlipressin. A randomized, controlled trial showed a significant effect of terlipressin on reversal of hepatorenal syndrome. The contribution of volume expansion to the beneficial effects of vasoconstrictors on hepatorenal syndrome remains to be determined. In general, reversal of hepatorenal syndrome was associated with an improved survival. However, it remains to be determined if vasoconstrictor therapy should be used in hepatorenal syndrome in general, or if it should be reserved for potential candidates for liver transplantation. In conclusion, evidence for a beneficial effect of vasoconstrictor therapy for the treatment of hepatorenal syndrome is steadily accumulating. Confirmation of the preliminary data in larger randomized, controlled trials looking at long-term survival is required.
Keywords: Alpha-adrenergic agonists, chronic liver disease, decompensated liver cirrhosis, hepatorenal syndrome, functional, renal failure, vasoconstrictors, vasopressin analogues
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