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Keywords:

  • bacterial DNA;
  • bacterial translocation;
  • cirrhosis;
  • inflammation;
  • lipopolysaccharide-binding protein;
  • liver disease;
  • polymerase chain reaction;
  • portal hypertension;
  • prognosis;
  • transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt

Abstract

Background

Bacterial translocation (BT) with immune activation may lead to hemodynamical alterations and poor outcomes in patients with cirrhosis.

Aims

We investigated bacterial DNA (bDNA), a marker of BT, and its relation to portal pressure and markers of inflammation in the portal and hepatic veins in patients with cirrhosis undergoing TIPS insertion.

Methods

We analysed plasma for bDNA and markers of inflammation in 28 patients [median portal pressure gradient 15 (11-19) mmHg] during TIPS treatment for refractory ascites (n = 19) or acute variceal bleeding (n = 9). Advanced cirrhosis was present in the majority [Child–Pugh class (A/B/C): 1/14/13], and most often caused by alcohol (n = 21).

Results

bDNA was detectable in one or both samples in 16 of 28 patients (57%).

bDNA was present in 39% of the samples from the portal vein vs 43% of the samples in the hepatic vein (P = 0.126). Antibiotics had no effect on bDNA or markers of inflammation. Markers of inflammation did not differ between the hepatic and portal veins with the exceptions of soluble urokinase plasminogen activating receptor (suPAR) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), both higher in the hepatic vein (P = 0.031 and 0.003 respectively).

Conclusions

No transhepatic gradient of bDNA was evident, suggesting that no major hepatic elimination of bDNA occurs in advanced liver disease. bDNA, in contrast to previous reports was largely unrelated to a panel of markers of inflammation and without relation to portal pressure.