Objective: To review the human and veterinary literature on the physiological role and effects of therapeutic albumin supplementation.
Data sources: Data from human and veterinary literature was reviewed.
Human data synthesis: Hypoalbuminemia often occurs in a variety of critical illnesses, and contributes to the development of life-threatening complications, including pulmonary edema, delayed wound healing, feeding intolerance, hypercoaguability, and multiple organ dysfunction. Serum albumin concentration has been used as a prognostic indicator in cases of chronic hypoalbuminemia. The use of albumin replacement therapy in humans is sometimes controversial, but may be associated with improved morbidity and decreased mortality.
Veterinary data synthesis: Unlike human literature, there is a paucity of controlled clinical studies in the literature regarding albumin supplementation in veterinary patients. Rather, the majority of published studies were performed in experimental animals or via retrospective analyses. One recent study evaluated the use of plasma to improve albumin concentration in dogs with hypoalbuminemia. Other older studies investigated wound healing in dogs with experimentally induced hypoalbuminemia. As in human medicine, serum albumin concentration may be helpful as a prognostic indicator in critically ill dogs.
Conclusion: Albumin is one of the most important proteins in the body because of its role in maintenance of colloid oncotic pressure, substrate transport, buffering capacity, as a mediator of coagulation and wound healing, and free-radical scavenging. Albumin replacement in veterinary medicine is difficult, but until prospective clinical trials determine the efficacy of albumin replacement are conducted, a suggested clinical guideline would be to maintain albumin concentration at or above 2.0 g/dl utilizing fresh frozen plasma.