Department of Medical Physiology, College of Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Temple, TX, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, Baylor Scott & White, Temple, TX, USA.
Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System, Temple, TX, USA.
Hepatic encephalopathy describes the array of neurological alterations that occur during acute liver failure or chronic liver injury. While key players in the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy, such as increases in brain ammonia, alterations in neurosteroid levels, and neuroinflammation, have been identified, there is still a paucity in our knowledge of the precise pathogenic mechanism. This review gives a brief overview of our understanding of the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy and then summarizes the significant recent advances made in clinical and basic research contributing to our understanding, diagnosis, and possible treatment of hepatic encephalopathy. A literature search using the PubMed database was conducted in May 2017 using "hepatic encephalopathy" as a keyword, and selected manuscripts were limited to those research articles published since May 2014. While the authors acknowledge that many significant advances have been made in the understanding of hepatic encephalopathy prior to May 2014, we have limited the scope of this review to the previous three years only.