Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure

Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure (ACLF)

Hepatocellular damage, secondary to a variety of insults (infectious agents, alcohol, exogenous drugs autoimmunity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis etc.), can result in chronic liver disease, if the underlying etiology is not effectively treated. This condition is characterized histopathologically by increasing degrees of fibrosis and cirrhosis, and frequently remains subclinical or undiagnosed. Often as a result of a secondary insult, the liver can decompensate, leading to a life-threatening disorder known as acute-on-chronic liver failure, or ACLF.

The damage to the liver from continuing insults causes the gradual development of fibrosis in the liver over time, which results in a decrease of both liver function and the ability to regenerate after decompensation. The fibrosis progresses to cirrhosis when this process continues for many years. The progression of fibrosis to cirrhosis results in a shrunken liver, distortion of hepatic lobules, and continued loss of hepatocytes (due to replacement with fibrotic tissue) that leads to progressive and recurrent episodes of decompensation. This progressive loss of hepatocyte mass impairs the liver’s inherent ability to regenerate following decompensation.