Background/aims: The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of a standard albumin load on blood volume distribution, arterial compliance, and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in patients with different degrees of cirrhosis.
Methods: 31 patients with cirrhosis (Child classes A/B/C=8/14/9) received an intravenous infusion of 40 g human serum albumin during a haemodynamic investigation.
Results: Whereas plasma- and blood volume increased by 23 and 15%, respectively (P<0.001), a significant increase in central blood volume was found only in class A patients (+8%, P<0.05), but not in class B or class C patients (+2.7%, not significant (n.s.)). In contrast, arterial compliance only increased significantly in class C patients (+18%, P<0.05), but not in class A or class B patients (+6%, n.s.). Plasma renin activity (PRA) decreased significantly in class C patients (-31%, P<0.05). When all patients were compared, the change in arterial compliance was inversely correlated to the change in PRA (r=-0.50, P<0.01).
Conclusions: Although infusion of albumin does not expand the central blood volume in patients with advanced cirrhosis, the results indicate a significant improvement in the low effective arterial blood volume of such patients, which may be important in the prevention of circulatory dysfunction.