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Keywords:

  • hepatic encephalopathy;
  • intestinal permeability;
  • lactulose mannitol ratio;
  • liver cirrhosis;
  • spontaneous bacterial peritonitis

Aim:  Increased intestinal permeability (IP) has been implicated as an important factor for bacterial translocation (BT), leading to bacteremia and endotoxemia, resulting in various septic complications, variceal bleeding (VB), hepatic encephalopathy (HE), hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) and death in patients with liver cirrhosis (LC). This study was planned to assess IP in patients with LC and follow them for the occurrence of complications.

Methods:  Patients with Child B and C cirrhosis without a history of disease-related complications were followed up for 6 months. IP was measured by lactulose and mannitol excretion ratio (LMR) in patients and 50 healthy controls (HC). Serum endotoxin levels were also assessed in 48 patients and 20 HC.

Results:  Eighty patients (74 male), 41 (51.3%) Child B and 56 (70%) Child C, with a mean age of 40.7 ± 9.8 years were enrolled. IP was increased in 28 (35%) patients. LMR of patients was higher than HC (patients vs HC = 0.0238 [0.0010–1.557] vs 0.0166 [0.0018–0.720]; P = 0.007]. No significant difference was seen in the LMR of patients among various Child classes and etiologies. Serum endotoxin levels (GMU/mL) were higher in patients than HC (patients vs HC = 1.42 [0.68–2.13] vs 0.994 [0.067–1.382]; P = 0.001), but comparable between patients with abnormal and normal IP. At follow up, there was no significant difference in the incidence of complications like spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, HRS, VB, HE and death between patients with abnormal and normal IP.

Conclusion:  IP was increased in 35% of patients with LC; however, it was not associated with a higher incidence of disease-related complications.