Background: TNFα levels are increased in liver cirrhosis even in the absence of infection, most likely owing to a continuous endotoxin influx into the portal blood. Soluble TNFα receptors (sTNFR type I and II) reflect release of the short-lived TNFα, because they are cleaved from the cells after binding of TNFα. The aims were to investigate the circulating levels of soluble TNFR-I and -II in cirrhotic patients receiving TIPS.
Methods: Forty-nine patients with liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension (12 viral, 37 alcoholic) received TIPS for prevention of re-bleeding (n = 14), therapy-refractory ascites (n = 20), or both (n = 15). Portal and hepatic venous blood was drawn in these patients during the TIPS procedure and during the control catheterization two weeks later. sTNFR-I and sTNFR-II were measured by ELISA, correlated to clinical and biochemical characteristics.
Results: Before TIPS insertion, sTNFR-II levels were lower in portal venous blood than in the hepatic venous blood, as well as in portal venous blood after TIPS insertion. No significant differences were measured in sTNFR-I levels. Hepatic venous levels of sTNFR-I above 4.5 ng/mL (p = 0.036) and sTNFR-II above 7 ng/mL (p = 0.05) after TIPS insertion were associated with decreased survival. A multivariate Cox-regression survival analysis identified the hepatic venous levels of sTNFR-I (p = 0.004) two weeks after TIPS, and Child score (p = 0.002) as independent predictors of mortality, while MELD-score was not.
Conclusion: Hepatic venous levels of sTNFR-I after TIPS insertion may predict mortality in patients with severe portal hypertension.