Indexed on: 18 Jan '11Published on: 18 Jan '11Published in: Journal of Hepatology
Deranged neutrophil function in alcoholic hepatitis has been shown to be transmissible to normal neutrophils by patient plasma. The aims of this study were (i) to evaluate whether patients with stable cirrhosis have a similar transmissible neutrophil defect and (ii) to explore the possible mechanisms.Plasma samples from 108 stable cirrhotic patients (Child A or B: 58; Child C: 50) and matched controls were incubated with normal neutrophils. Neutrophil resting respiratory burst, phagocytosis, and toll-like receptors 2, 4, and 9 expressions as well as plasma endotoxin, bacterial DNA, and cytokines were measured. In a separate study, eight patients and five controls were studied using a novel 'skin-window' technique to evaluate neutrophil function in an area of induced sterile inflammation.Patient plasma induced neutrophil phagocytic dysfunction was greater in patients with more severe disease and was associated with increased expression of toll-like receptors 2 and 4. An increased resting respiratory burst was observed in a subset of patients, showing higher levels of inflammatory cytokines and more pronounced phagocytic impairment. No correlation was found with endotoxemia or bacterial DNA. In patients with compensated cirrhosis and apparently normal neutrophil function, the 'skin-window' study disclosed a severe phagocytic defect at the site of inflammation. Significantly higher levels of neutrophil elastase and IL-8 were found in the blister fluid.Stable cirrhosis is characterized by neutrophil phagocytic dysfunction which may be subtle and only revealed in inflamed peripheral tissues where excessive inflammatory mediators continue to be released.