A randomized-controlled trial comparing 20% albumin to plasmalyte in patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension [ALPS trial]

Published:April 20, 2022DOI:


      • 20% albumin is superior to plasmalyte in reversing sepsis-induced hypotension in critically ill patients with cirrhosis.
      • 20% albumin does not provide survival benefit over plasmalyte.
      • 20% albumin causes more pulmonary complications than plasmalyte.
      • Patients with pneumonia, higher arterial lactate and SOFA score are at higher risk of pulmonary complications after 20% albumin.
      • Plasmalyte is a safer fluid for resuscitation of critically ill patients with cirrhosis, pneumonia and lower serum bicarbonate.

      Background & Aims

      The choice of resuscitation fluid in patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension is unclear. 5% albumin was superior to normal saline in the FRISC study. We compared the efficacy and safety of 20% albumin, which has greater oncotic properties, to plasmalyte in reversing sepsis-induced hypotension.


      Critically ill patients with cirrhosis underwent open-label randomization to receive either 20% albumin (0.5-1.0 g/kg over 3 hours; n = 50) or plasmalyte (30 ml/kg over 3 hours, n = 50). The primary endpoint of the study was the attainment of mean arterial pressure (MAP) above 65 mmHg at 3 hours.


      Baseline characteristics were comparable in albumin and plasmalyte groups; arterial lactate (6.16±3.18 mmol/L vs. 6.38±4.77 mmol/L; p = 0.78), MAP (51.4±6.52 mmHg vs. 49.9±4.45 mmHg; p = 0.17) and SOFA score (10.8±2.96 vs. 11.1±4.2; p = 0.68), respectively. Most patients were alcoholics (39%) and had pneumonia (40%). In the intention-to-treat analysis, albumin was superior to plasmalyte in achieving the primary endpoint (62% vs. 22%; p <0.001). A faster decline in arterial lactate (p = 0.03), a reduced need for dialysis (48% vs. 62%; p = 0.16), and a longer time to initiation of dialysis (in hours) (68.13±47.79 vs. 99.7± 63.4; p = 0.06) were seen with albumin. However, the 28-day mortality rate was not different (58% vs. 62%, p = 0.57) and treatment had to be discontinued in 11 (22%) patients in the albumin group due to adverse effects compared to no discontinuations in the plasmalyte group.


      In patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension, 20% albumin leads to a faster improvement in hemodynamics and lactate clearance than plasmalyte, while 28-day survival was similar. However, patients on 20% albumin need to be closely monitored as it was more often associated with pulmonary complications.

      Clinical trial registration


      Lay summary

      The current randomized-controlled trial performed in critically ill patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension highlights that 20% albumin restores arterial pressure more quickly but causes more pulmonary complications than plasmalyte. The impact on renal functions was also modest. These effects did not result in improvement in survival at 28 days. Plasmalyte is safer and well-tolerated and can be considered for volume resuscitation in patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension.

      Graphical abstract


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