Background: Several studies have shown that serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF) are significantly elevated in patients with acute and chronic liver diseases, where these elevations are independent of the etiology of the underlying disease. Serum levels of TNF are significantly higher in patients with cirrhosis than in those without cirrhosis, reaching the highest levels in decompensated cirrhosis. It has also been shown that plasma levels of TNF correlate with the severity of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) in fulminant hepatic failure. However, still there are no published data regarding the relationship between blood levels of TNF and the presence or severity of HE in patients with chronic liver failure.
Aim: The aim of this study is to determine the relationship between serum levels of TNF and clinical grades of HE in patients with liver cirrhosis.
Methods: Using a commercially available high-sensitivity enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit, serum levels of TNF were measured in 74 patients with liver cirrhosis in various clinical grades of HE (grades 0–4).
Results: The mean±SEM values of serum levels of TNF at presentation in patients with grade 0 of HE (n=23), grade 1 (n=12), grade 2 (n=14), grade 3 (n=16), and grade 4 (n=9) were 4.50±0.46, 9.10±1.0, 12.98±1.22, 21.51±2.63, and 58.26±19.7 pg/ml, respectively. A significant positive correlation was found between serum levels of TNF and the severity of HE (P<0.0001).
Conclusion: Serum levels of TNF correlate positively with the severity of HE in patients with chronic liver failure.