[Clinical characteristics and mechanism of liver injury in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome]

Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi. 2003 Aug;11(8):493-6.
[Article in Chinese]


Objectives: To summarize the clinical features of liver injury in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), providing information for further mechanism and clinical study.

Methods: The clinical and some laboratory data of 154 patients suffered from SARS were collected and analyzed, who were admitted to the isolation wards of Beijing You-an Hospital from March 11 to June 3, 2003. The serum samples were taken from 46 patients to detect IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-alpha, endotoxin and hepatitis related viral inclusions. In addition, 11 patients were detected ultrasonically, and 3 patients were described pathological features. Other two groups including 15 healthy care workers and 22 patients with chronic hepatitis in the same period were selected and analyzed as controls.

Results: When being admitted to hospital, serum ALT and (or) AST levels were elevated in 37.7% SARS patients. Some of them (43.1%) were mild, and most of them (56.9%) were moderate. Abnormal liver function mainly resulted from ALT elevation (70.7%), then both ALT and AST elevation (22.4%). The aminotransferases in 75.9% SARS patients normalized within two weeks, while they elevated in four patients during the hospitalization. There was a significant difference in ALT/AST elevation rates between severe and mild clinical type (chi2=19.28, P<0.05). Serum total bilirubin values elevated in 8.4% patients. Serum albumin and prealbumin levels decreased in 24.0% and 28.6% patients, respectively. Creatine kinase (CK) and (or) creatine kinase MB (CK-MB) levels elevated in 72.7% patients when they hospitalized. The six kinds of interleukins and TNF-alpha levels during the first week of hospitalization were higher than those in the fourth week and in control groups (t>or=1.67, P<0.05). The levels of some factors, such as IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-10 in patients with elevated ALT, were higher than those in ALT normal patients (t>or=2.36, P<0.05). In the first week, only 15.2% patients had elevated serum endotoxin level. Ultrasonic examination and pathological observation showed no special features, compared with those in common acute hepatitis patients.

Conclusions: All the results suggest strongly that there may be a systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) in most SARS patients in early stage, and the liver damage is only its partial signs. It may be beneficial to suppress cytokines storm in SARS patients in early stage, which will stop the progression of SIRS and release hepatic damage and improve the prognosis of SARS patients.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / complications*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / etiology*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / physiopathology


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-10
  • Alanine Transaminase