The use of albumin in the complications of cirrhosis: evidence and future perspectives

Alessandra Tovoli, Giacomo Zaccherini, Lucia Napoli, Carmen Serena Ricci, Manuel Tufoni, Paolo Caraceni



The therapeutic use of albumin in cirrhosis dates back to the 50s, when hypoalbuminemia was thought to play a crucial role in the pathophysiology of ascites. Today, while its efficacy in the treatment of ascites is still under investigation, it has been proved that albumin is able to improve patient outcome and survival in some specific complications of cirrhosis, such as the prevention of post-paracentesis circulatory dysfunction and the treatment of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and hepatorenal syndrome. Beside its oncotic power, albumin carries other biological properties, the so called non-oncotic properties, including transportation and detoxification of several molecules, free radical scavenging, modulation of vascular permeability, activity on the immune system and on the haemostatic balance. Some experimental evidences indicate that not only albumin concentration but also its function is reduced in patients with cirrhosis. However, the clinical implications of such functional abnormalities is still unclear. We here present the available evidence on the use of albumin in cirrhosis and future perspectives.


Albumin; Liver cirrhosis; Ascites

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