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Thrombopoietin serum levels are elevated in patients with hepatitis B/C infection compared to other causes of chronic liver disease


Patrick Schöffski, MD, MPH, Hannover Medical School, Department of Hematology/Oncology, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany. Tel: 49 511 532 4077. Fax: 49 511 532 8077. e-mail:


Abstract:  Background/aims:  Thrombocytopenia in patients with advanced liver disease may stem from a deficient hepatic thrombopoietin production.

Methods: We determined the relationship between thrombopoietin, thrombocytopenia, aetiology and extent of liver damage by incorporating serum thrombopoietin measurements in the pretransplant evaluation of 111 patients with liver disease.

Results: The extent of thrombocytopenia was related to the underlying cause of disease. The platelet count directly correlated with factor V, II, fibrinogen, and PTT, and a negative correlation was found for splenic size and Child's stage. The thrombopoietin concentrations were age-dependent, and no significant difference resulted between the median thrombopoietin level of liver disease patients with age-matched healthy controls. Thrombopoietin concentrations and platelet counts were not correlated. Although noncirrhotic patients had higher platelet counts than those with Child's A–C cirrhosis (p < 0.001, U-test), no such difference was found in thrombopoietin levels. Patients with hepatitis B and/or C had lower platelet counts compared to patients with nonviral diseases (p < 0.001), and their median thrombopoietin concentrations were significantly higher (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: We conclude that thrombocytopenia in patients with liver disease is unlikely to be explained only based on a deficient hepatic production of thrombopoietin. Patients with chronic viral hepatitis have significantly elevated thrombopoietin levels; the involved pathomechanisms require further study.