Background: Ischemia-modified albumin (IMA), measured by the cobalt-binding capacity of albumin, is a promising biomarker for cardiac ischemia. The IMA-to-serum albumin ratio (IMAR) has been reported to relate to the severity of decompensated liver cirrhosis. This study aimed to assess IMA and IMAR as a liver function test and to investigate whether albumin infusion changes IMAR in patients with liver cirrhosis. Methods: Blood samples were collected from healthy volunteers (n=51) and patients with chronic hepatitis (n=25), liver cirrhosis (n=24) and uremia (n=13). Parameters examined included serum levels of IMA, albumin, total bilirubin, creatinine, international normalized ratio (INR), model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score, childturcotte-pugh (CTP) score, indocyanine green (ICG) retention rate and total antioxidant capacity (TAC). Paired serum samples from patients pre- and post-albumin infusion (n=9) were collected and the changes were compared. Results: IMA and IMAR increased in patients with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, as compared to healthy volunteers. In patients with liver disease, IMA and IMAR were significantly associated with ICG retention, bilirubin, TAC and INR. In addition, IMAR was associated with CTP and MELD score in patients with cirrhosis. Albumin therapy improved patients' serum levels of creatinine and bilirubin and MELD score, but not IMA and IMAR. Conclusions: IMAR, reflecting liver function and oxidative stress, is a more objective liver function test as it was not affected after a 3-day albumin infusion. More investigations, however, are needed to validate the use of IMAR in cases of chronic liver disease.
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