Comparing acute fatty liver of pregnancy from hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets syndrome

John J. Byrne, Angela Seasely, David B. Nelson, Donald D. Mcintire, F. Gary Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP) and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome are both associated with significant maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Because of the overlap of several clinical and laboratory findings differentiation can sometimes be difficult. Both disorders have been of interest for more than 100 years, however they were not completely characterized until the early 1980s. It was not until the 1980s that AFLP and HELLP syndrome, and more specifically their clinical, laboratory, and pathologic findings, were further differentiated in the literature. More recently, the pathophysiologic mechanisms have been elucidated. In this review, we outline the similarities and differences in the clinical presentation, laboratory findings, maternal and perinatal outcomes, and clinical recovery for women diagnosed with these two syndromes. From our observations, we suggest that levels of fibrinogen, creatinine, cholesterol, and total bilirubin be used to assist with differentiating AFLP from HELLP syndrome upon admission in women presenting with either suspected disease. The rationale for identifying the specific conditions is that clinical consequences for recovery vary considerably. Specifically, AFLP is associated with significantly more hepatic and renal dysfunction as well as coagulopathy. Fortunately, both conditions can be managed with supportive measures with overall improved perinatal outcomes including morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1362
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022


  • AST
  • Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
  • HELLP syndrome
  • cholesterol transaminases
  • liver analytes
  • preeclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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