Albumin Dialysis

Emerging indications for albumin dialysis.

Sen S, Williams R, Jalan R.
Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Feb;100(2):468-75.

Institute of Hepatology, University College of London, United Kingdom.

The accumulation of albumin-bound toxins in liver failure is believed to be responsible for the development of associated end-organ dysfunctions (kidney, circulation, brain). Albumin dialysis utilizes the scavenging functions of albumin for the removal of toxins. The Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System (MARS) is one such extracorporeal liver support device where blood is dialyzed across an albumin-impregnated membrane against 20% albumin. Charcoal and anion exchange resin columns in the circuit cleanse and regenerate the albumin dialysate. Clinical studies in the last decade have demonstrated proven reduction in hyperbilirubinemia, along with an improvement in encephalopathy in liver failure patients, as well as apparent improvement in survival. Some studies have also reported improvement of systemic hemodynamics and renal function in these patients. Amelioration of intractable pruritus and treatment of toxicities with albumin-bound substances are some of the newer indications emerging. However, the specific underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are still not clear. Two other systems based on the removal of albumin-bound toxins, the Prometheus (using the principle of fractionated plasma separation and adsorption [FPSA]), and the single pass albumin dialysis (SPAD) are also currently under development but available clinical data are limited. (Am J Gastroenterol 2005;100:468-475).