Background: In patients with cirrhosis, severe sepsis may stimulate the extrinsic coagulation pathway resulting in thrombin generation and fibrin formation.
Aims: To compare 23 patients with severe sepsis to 13 infected patients without severe sepsis and 18 patients without infection.
Methods: Zymogen forms of clotting factors involved in the extrinsic pathway (i.e., factors VII+X, V, prothrombin), and the presence of soluble fibrin were assessed.
Results: Zymogen forms of clotting factors were significantly lower, while Child–Pugh score and the proportion of patients with soluble fibrin were higher in the severe-sepsis group than in the other groups. Decreased zymogen levels were independently correlated with an elevated Child–Pugh score and the presence of severe sepsis. In the severe-sepsis group, after adjustment for the severity of cirrhosis, decreased zymogen levels were associated with significant increases in the relative risk ratios of in-hospital death.
Conclusions: Cirrhotic patients with severe sepsis have decreased blood levels of zymogen forms of factors VII+X, V, and prothrombin, which may be due not only to the severity of cirrhosis but also, at least in part, to the consumption of these zymogens by the extrinsic coagulation pathway.