Home > Journals > Minerva Medica > Past Issues > Minerva Medica 2015 February;106(1) > Minerva Medica 2015 February;106(1):35-43



Publishing options
To subscribe
Submit an article
Recommend to your librarian


Cite this article as



Minerva Medica 2015 February;106(1):35-43


language: English

Artificial liver support: a real step forward

Saliba F. 1-3, Samuel D. 1-3

1 AP‑HP‑ Hôpital Paul Brousse, Centre Hépato‑Biliaire, Villejuif, France; 2 Université Paris‑Sud, UMR‑S 785, Villejuif, France; 3 INSERM, Unité 785, Villejuif, France


Since the early 1960s, several authors reported on the use of some experimental artificial liver devices in order to support patients with either acute liver failure (ALF) or end-stage chronic liver disease. In the 1980s, liver transplantation became an established real treatment replacing the whole liver with a major survival benefit. In the 1990s, the concept of albumin dialysis appeared as a new revolution in the concept of dialysis with the great capacity of removal of toxins, drugs and molecules strongly bound to albumin. Currently, three artificial liver support devices are available: The MARS®, the Prometheus® and the SPAD®. The most widely studied and used system is the MARS® that uses albumin dialysis to replace the detoxification function of the liver. MARS has shown in several uncontrolled studies and few randomized studies an improvement in the patient condition in terms of clinical symptoms (hepatic encephalopathy, pruritus, jaundice) and in liver and kidney biological parameters bringing these patients safely to liver transplantation. MARS® has shown for some patients with ALF (mainly paracetamol intoxication) an improvement of spontaneous or transplant free survival. The use of MARS in acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF) require further studies based on strict definition of the syndrome. The use of albumin dialysis technique, require the performance of multiple sessions of treatment or even (in situations of ALF) a continuous treatment in order to improve spontaneous recovery or bridge these patients to liver transplantation. The performance of these systems would need further improvement. Large randomized trials are still needed in both patients with ALF and ACLF to establish the indications, the timing and the real place of liver support therapies. Meanwhile, early use of these devices in patients with ALF and ACLF could be considered as an additional tool among others in the management of these patients in specialized liver units.

top of page