Objectives: We sought to determine whether markers of T-cell immune activation, including soluble interleukin 2 receptor alpha (sIL2Rα) levels predict outcome in pediatric acute liver failure and may target potential candidates for immunomodulatory therapy.
Methods: We analyzed markers of immune activation in 77 patients with pediatric acute liver failure enrolled in a multinational, multicenter study. The outcomes were survival with native liver, liver transplantation (LT), and death without transplantation within 21 days after enrollment.
Results: Adjusting for multiple comparisons, only normalized serum sIL2Rα level differed significantly among the 3 outcomes, and was significantly higher in patients who died (P = 0.02) or underwent LT (P = 0.01) compared with those who survived with their native liver. The 37 patients with normal sIL2Rα levels all lived, 30 with their native liver. Of the 15 subjects with markedly high sIL2Rα (≥5000 IU/mL), 5 survived with their native liver, 2 died, and 8 underwent LT.
Conclusions: Evidence of immune activation is present in some patients who die or undergo LT. Patients with higher sIL2Rα levels were more likely to die or undergo LT within 21 days than those with lower levels. Identifying a subset of patients at risk for poor outcome may form the foundation for targeted clinical trials with immunomodulatory drugs.