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Background: Serum levels of the tumor marker tissue polypeptide specific antigen (TPS, cytokeratin 18 fragments) are increased in patients with alcoholic liver disease, particularly in cases of alcoholic hepatitis. Mallory bodies, characteristic of alcoholic hepatitis, are cytokeratin 8 and 18 aggregates. The study was aimed at investigating the possible relationship of serum TPS levels with hepatocyte cytokeratin expression in patients with alcoholic liver disease.

Methods: Twenty-four patients with alcoholic liver disease were studied. Immunohistochemical staining for cytokeratins 8 and 18 was performed in liver specimens by means of CAM 5.2 monoclonal antibody. The number of hepatocytes containing CAM 5.2-reactive cytokeratin inclusions was compared with serum TPS levels.

Main Results and Conclusions: The vast majority of alcoholics (95%) showed increased (>100 units/liter) serum TPS levels. Serum TPS levels were significantly correlated with the number of hepatocyte cytokeratin inclusions. Serum TPS levels can predict hepatocyte cytokeratin expression in patients with alcoholic liver disease.