Clinical significance of elevated serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level in acute viral hepatitis A (AHA).

PMID 24634927


The clinical course of acute viral hepatitis A (AHA) is highly variable. Serum alphafetoprotein (AFP) level is often elevated in various types of acute liver injuries, indicating active liver regeneration. This study was aimed to investigate the clinical significance of serum AFP level in the aspect of the early recovery in AHA. A total of 238 patients with AHA, confirmed by IgM anti-hepatitis A virus, were included. The patients were classified according to serum AFP level. Multivariate analysis by Cox proportional hazards model using dichotomized clinical variables was performed to identify the independent predictors for early recovery (ALT normalization within 2 weeks). The median age (range) was 30 (17-50) years and male dominant (62%, 147/238). Compared to low AFP group, high AFP group (>10 ng/mL) had significantly lower platelet counts (p <0.0001), lower albumin (p =0.003), lower AST (p <0.001), lower ALT (p = 0.001), higher total bilirubin level (p <0.0001) on univariate analysis. On Cox regression analysis, high AFP level (>10 ng/mL) was the only independent predictor for early recovery (Hazard ratio (HR); 2.392, 95% CI; 1.564-3.659, p = 0.0001). High serum AFP level (>10 ng/mL) may indicate the already-started recovery through active liver regeneration or the early recovery within 2 weeks in AHA.