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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Non-Invasive markers for hepatic fibrosis

Ancha Baranova12, Priyanka Lal12, Aybike Birerdinc12 and Zobair M Younossi13*

Author Affiliations

1 Betty and Guy Beatty Center for Integrated Research, Inova Health System, Falls Church, VA, USA

2 Center for the Study of Genomics in Liver Diseases, School of Systems Biology, College of Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

3 Center for Liver Diseases, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA, USA

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BMC Gastroenterology 2011, 11:91  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-91

Published: 17 August 2011

Abstract

With great advancements in the therapeutic modalities used for the treatment of chronic liver diseases, the accurate assessment of liver fibrosis is a vital need for successful individualized management of disease activity in patients. The lack of accurate, reproducible and easily applied methods for fibrosis assessment has been the major limitation in both the clinical management and for research in liver diseases. However, the problem of the development of biomarkers capable of non-invasive staging of fibrosis in the liver is difficult due to the fact that the process of fibrogenesis is a component of the normal healing response to injury, invasion by pathogens, and many other etiologic factors. Current non-invasive methods range from serum biomarker assays to advanced imaging techniques such as transient elastography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Among non-invasive methods that gain strongest clinical foothold are FibroScan elastometry and serum-based APRI and FibroTest. There are many other tests that are not yet widely validated, but are none the less, promising. The rate of adoption of non-invasive diagnostic tests for liver fibrosis differs from country to country, but remains limited. At the present time, use of non-invasive procedures could be recommended as pre-screening that may allow physicians to narrow down the patients' population before definitive testing of liver fibrosis by biopsy of the liver. This review provides a systematic overview of these techniques, as well as both direct and indirect biomarkers based approaches used to stage fibrosis and covers recent developments in this rapidly advancing area.