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Detection of bacterial DNA in serum and ascitic fluid of asymptomatic outpatients with cirrhosis and non-neutrocytic ascites


Thomas Sersté, Service d'Hépato-Gastroentérologie,Hôpital Saint-Pierre, 322 rue Haute, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 535 4109
Fax: +32 2 535 4419


Background and aims: Bacterial DNA (bactDNA) has been found in serum and ascitic fluid (AF) of 30–40% of hospitalized patients with cirrhosis and non-neutrocytic ascites, but its prevalence in outpatients is unknown. The aim of this prospective study was to investigate the presence of bactDNA in AF and serum among cirrhotic outpatients with non-neutrocytic ascites.

Methods: Thirty-one consecutive patients with cirrhosis and non-neutrocytic ascites, who underwent therapeutic paracentesis in our outpatient clinic, were enrolled over a 13-week period. Of these patients, 13 had a single paracentesis and 18 patients had several consecutive paracenteses (2–10) over the study period. Overall, 98 serum and non-neutrocytic AF specimens were obtained and tested for the presence of bactDNA by polymerase chain reaction amplification of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene.

Results: The main causes of cirrhosis were alcohol (53.5%) and hepatitis C (30%). The median MELD score was 16 and there were 54.8% Child–Pugh C patients. BactDNA was negative in all samples from 28 of the 31 patients, including 15 patients with several paracentesis. One patient had a single AF sample culture positive and bactDNA positive for Streptococcus mitis, whereas the simultaneous blood sample was negative. For each of the last two patients, DNA from Lactococcus lactis was detected in a single blood sample but not in the simultaneous AF sample.

Conclusions: In contrast to that reported previously in hospitalized patients, bactDNA is rarely detected in serum and AF of outpatients with cirrhosis and non-neutrocytic ascites.