Liver Transpl 2017 12;23(12):1541-1552
Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA.
Though serum iron has been known to be associated with an increased risk of infection, hepcidin, the major regulator of iron metabolism, has never been systematically explored in this setting. Finding early biomarkers of infection, such as hepcidin, could help identify patients in whom early empiric antimicrobial therapy would be beneficial. We prospectively enrolled consecutive patients (n = 128) undergoing first-time, single-organ orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) without known iron overload disorders at 2 academic hospitals in Boston from August 2009 to November 2012. Cox regression compared the associations between different iron markers and the development of first infection at least 1 week after OLT; 47 (37%) patients developed a primary outcome of infection at least 1 week after OLT and 1 patient died. After adjusting for perioperative bleeding complications, number of hospital days, and hepatic artery thrombosis, changes in iron markers were associated with the development of infection post-OLT including increasing ferritin (hazard ratio [HR], 1.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12-2.05), rising ferritin slope (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.03-1.17), and increasing hepcidin (HR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.05-1.93). A decreasing iron (HR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.20-2.57) and a decreasing iron slope (HR, 4.21; 95% CI, 2.51-7.06) were also associated with subsequent infections. In conclusion, hepcidin and other serum iron markers and their slope patterns or their combination are associated with infection in vulnerable patient populations. Liver Transplantation 23 1541-1552 2017 AASLD.