Characterization of the molecular forms of fibronectin in fulminant hepatic failure

Authors

  • Piero L. Almasio,

    1. Liver Unit, King's College Hospital and School of Medicine and Dentistry, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8RX, England
    Current affiliation:
    1. Clinica Medica (R), Istituto di Medicina Generale e Pneumologia, 90146 Palermo, Italy
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    • P. L. A. was a recipient of an Anna Villa Rusconi Foundation research fellowship.

  • Robin D. Hughes,

    1. Liver Unit, King's College Hospital and School of Medicine and Dentistry, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8RX, England
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  • Roger Williams M.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Liver Unit, King's College Hospital and School of Medicine and Dentistry, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8RX, England
    • King's College Hospital and School of Medicine and Dentistry, Liver Unit, Denmark Hall, London SE5 8RX, England
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Abstract

The plasma levels of the opsonic glycoprotein fibronectin are decreased in patients with fulminant hepatic failure, which may be an important factor in their impaired host-defense. Twenty-nine patients in fulminant hepatic failure were studied on admission, and the mean fibronectin level in Grade 0–2 encephalopathy was 82 μg per ml (range = 0 to 150) and in Grade 3–4 encephalopathy 61 μg per ml (range = 5 to 158) as compared to normal controls (268 μg per ml, range = 178 to 380, n = 62). No fibronectin degradation products could be detected in fulminant hepatic failure plasma by sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis on a polyacrylamide gradient (5 to 15%) followed by immunoblotting onto nitrocellulose with detection using a rabbit antihuman fibronectin antiserum visualized with a peroxidase conjugate. The plasma levels of the marker proteolytic enzyme cathepsin D were significantly elevated in fulminant hepatic failure (120 ± 31 mU per ml per hr) as compared to the normal controls (18 ± 2.1 mU per ml per hr, n = 10, p < 0.01). Cross-immunoelectrophoresis of fulminant hepatic failure plasma for fibronectin on agarose plates gave an additional slower migrating peak in 15 of the 29 patients, as well as that of fibronectin, which corresponded to the fibronectin complex reported by other workers in leukemia. An intermediate gel containing antihuman fibrinogen demonstrated fibrinogen to be one component of this complex. Binding of other substances to fibronectin will reduce its apparent biological activity and may be the result of their lack of clearance by the damaged liver.

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