BACKGROUND & AIMS: The SALVE Histopathology Group (SHG) developed and validated a grading and staging system for the clinical and full histological spectrum of alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) and evaluated its prognostic utility in a multinational cohort of 445 patients.
METHODS: SALVE grade was described by semiquantitative scores for steatosis, activity (hepatocellular injury and lobular neutrophils) and cholestasis. The histological diagnosis of steatohepatitis due to ALD (histological ASH, hASH) was based on the presence of hepatocellular ballooning and lobular neutrophils. Fibrosis staging was adapted from the Clinical Research Network staging system for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the Laennec staging system and reflects the pattern and extent of ALD fibrosis. There are 7 SALVE fibrosis stages (SFS) ranging from no fibrosis to severe cirrhosis.
RESULTS: Interobserver κ-value for each grading and staging parameter was >0.6. In the whole study cohort, long-term outcome was associated with activity grade and cholestasis, as well as cirrhosis with very broad septa (severe cirrhosis) (p <0.001 for all parameters). In decompensated ALD, adverse short-term outcome was associated with activity grade, hASH and cholestasis (p = 0.038, 0.012 and 0.001, respectively), whereas in compensated ALD, hASH and severe fibrosis/cirrhosis were associated with decompensation-free survival (p = 0.011 and 0.001, respectively). On multivariable analysis, severe cirrhosis emerged as an independent histological predictor of long-term survival in the whole study cohort. Severe cirrhosis and hASH were identified as independent predictors of short-term survival in decompensated ALD, and also as independent predictors of decompensation-free survival in compensated ALD.
CONCLUSION: The SALVE grading and staging system is a reproducible and prognostically relevant method for the histological assessment of disease activity and fibrosis in ALD.
LAY SUMMARY: Patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) may undergo liver biopsy to assess disease severity. We developed a system to classify ALD under the microscope by grading ALD activity and staging the extent of liver scarring. We validated the prognostic performance of this system in 445 patients from 4 European centers.