Prognostic Value of the 13C-Methacetin Breath Test in Adults with Acute Liver Failure and Non-acetaminophen Acute Liver Injury

Academic Article


  • Background and Aims: The 13C-methacetin breath test (MBT) is a noninvasive, quantitative hepatic metabolic function test. The aim of this prospective, multicenter study was to determine the utility of initial and serial 13C-MBT in predicting 21-day outcomes in adults with acute liver failure (ALF) and non-acetaminophen acute liver injury (ALI). Approach and Results: The 13C-MBT BreathID device (Exalenz Biosciences, Ltd.) provided the percent dose recovery (PDR) for a duration of 60 minutes after administration of 13C-methacetin solution as the change in exhaled 13CO2/12CO2 compared with pre-ingestion ratio on study days 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. Results were correlated with 21-day transplant-free survival and other prognostic indices. A total of 280 subjects were screened for enrollment between May 2016 and August 2019. Median age of the 62 enrolled patients with adequate data was 43 years, 79% were Caucasian, 76% had ALF with the remaining 24% having ALI. The mean PDR peak on day 1 or day 2 was significantly lower in nonsurvivors compared with transplant-free survivors (2.3%/hour vs. 9.1%/hour; P < 0.0001). In addition, serial PDR peaks were consistently lower in nonsurvivors versus survivors (P < 0.0001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of the 13C-MBT in the combined cohort was 0.88 (95% CI: 0.79-0.97) and higher than that provided by King’s College (AUROC = 0.70) and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease scores (AUROC = 0.83). The 13C-MBT was well tolerated with only two gastrointestinal adverse events reported. Conclusions: The 13C-MBT is a promising tool to estimate the likelihood of hepatic recovery in patients with ALF and ALI. Use of the PDR peak data from the 13C-MBT point-of-care test may assist with medical decision making and help avoid unnecessary transplantation in critically ill patients with ALF and ALI.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Hepatology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Fontana RJ; Stravitz RT; Durkalski V; Hanje J; Hameed B; Koch D; Ganger D; Olson J; Liou I; McGuire BM
  • Start Page

  • 961
  • End Page

  • 972
  • Volume

  • 74
  • Issue

  • 2