Hepatic ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality after liver surgery. Therefore, it is important to identity reliable biomarkers to assist early diagnosis of hepatic I/R injury. This study aimed to investigate the potential of serum levels of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) as a biomarker for hepatic I/R injury in patients with liver transplantation. Two independent cohorts of liver transplantation patients were recruited for determination of serum levels of FGF21, ALT, and AST. The results demonstrated that serum FGF21 at 2 hours post-reperfusion in cohort-1 exhibited an approximately 20-fold elevation relative to those in healthy subjects. In blood samples dynamically collected in cohort-2, a dramatic increase in serum FGF21 levels (∼25-fold) was observed at two hours after surgery, whereas the peak levels of serum ALT and AST were detected only after 24 hours. Temporal correlation analysis demonstrated a significant association of peak serum levels of FGF21 at 2 hours with the magnitude of the increase in both serum ALT and AST levels at 24 hours post transplantation. In conclusion, serum FGF21 may represent a sensitive and specific prognostic biomarker for early detection of I/R injury in patients with liver transplantation.
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