INTRODUCTION: The etiology of acute liver failure (ALF) remains an important prognostic factor. The Acute Liver Failure Study Group recently reported that 150 of 2,718 adult patients with ALF (5.5%) had an indeterminate etiology. Our aim was to use whole exome sequencing to identify genetic variants associated with phenotypic, biochemical, and histologic features among patients with indeterminate ALF. METHODS: This effort has defined a cohort of well-pedigreed patients with indeterminate ALF; DNA samples extracted from whole blood samples were obtained from 26 respective patients with indeterminate ALF. These samples were kept at the Acute Liver Failure Study Group repository at the NIDDK, Bethesda. Whole exome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis were performed at the Mayo Clinic Center of Individualized Medicine in Rochester, MN. RESULTS: Of the 26 patients, 8 survived spontaneously, 6 died, and 12 underwent a liver transplantation; all those transplanted were alive at 21 days after enrollment in the study. Twenty-two of the 26 patients presented as ALF. We found 12 variants associated with 11 genes. The most common variant was rs4940595 in the SERPINB11 gene which was found in 23 of the 26 patients. This variant had a stop codon; no reports of disorders have been associated with this variant. The next most commonly found variant was rs1135840 in the CYP2D6 gene; this mutation is a missense_variant and has been reported to be associated with hepatotoxicity of antituberculous therapy. None of our patients were receiving this therapy. We also found a significant asymmetric distribution of rs1800754 of the CYP2D7 gene and rs1135840 of the CYP2D6 gene between patients who survived spontaneously (75%) and those who died or underwent liver transplantation (30.5% and 25%, respectively). DISCUSSION: We found 12 variants of 11 genes significantly associated with ALF among adults with indeterminate etiology. We also found a significant asymmetric distribution of 2 variants belonging to the CYP2D7 and CYP2D6 genes, respectively, between those who survived spontaneously and those who died or underwent liver transplantation. The 2 most common variants, rs4940595 and rs1135840, of the SERPINB11 and CYP2D6 genes, respectively, found in our patients with ALF have been described as potentially important in the adaptive response combating the emergence of infectious diseases and associated with hepatotoxicity of antituberculous therapy, respectively. Our findings need to be expanded to include more patients with indeterminate ALF as well as viral, drug toxicity, and autoimmune etiologies to determine whether our findings are associated with the specific etiology, indeterminate, or with the overall ALF syndrome itself.
ASJC Scopus subject areas