Whether tubular injury develops in patients with acute kidney injury owing to hepatorenal syndrome (AKI-HRS) is controversial. We performed repeated measurements of biomarkers of tubular injury during a 14-day period in 60 patients with cirrhosis and AKI (34 with AKI-HRS meeting the classical definition of type 1 HRS and 26 with AKI owing to acute tubular necrosis, AKI-ATN). Nineteen of 34 patients had resolution of AKI-HRS, while the remainder had persistent AKI-HRS. The persistence of AKI-HRS was associated with remarkably high short-term mortality. There were no significant differences in urinary NGAL or IL-18 between patients with resolution vs those with persistent AKI-HRS throughout the 14-day period. By contrast, biomarker levels were significantly lower in AKI-HRS, even if persistent, compared to AKI-ATN. These findings are highly suggestive of lack of significant tubular injury in AKI-HRS and could be of value in the clinical decision between combined liver–kidney or liver transplantation alone in patients with cirrhosis and AKI candidates to transplantation.
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