Peripheral endothelial and microvascular damage in liver cirrhosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Microcirculation. 2022 Jul;29(4-5):e12773. doi: 10.1111/micc.12773. Epub 2022 Jun 19.


Objective: This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis of studies using any available functional method to examine differences in peripheral endothelial function between cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic individuals.

Methods: Literature search involved PubMed, Web-of-Science, and Scopus databases, as well as gray literature sources. We included studies in adult subjects evaluating endothelial function with any semi-invasive or non-invasive functional method in patients with and without liver cirrhosis.

Results: From 3378 records initially retrieved, 15 studies with a total of 570 participants were included in the final quantitative meta-analysis. In six studies examining endothelial function with flow-mediated-dilatation, no differences between patients with cirrhosis and controls were evident (WMD: 1.33, 95%CI [-2.87, 5.53], I2 = 97%, p < .00001). Among studies assessing differences in endothelial-dependent or endothelial-independent vasodilation with venous-occlusion-plethysmography, there were no significant differences between the two groups. When pooling all studies together, regardless of the technique used, no significant difference in endothelial function between cirrhotic patients and controls was observed(SMD: 0.79, 95%CI[-0.04, 1.63], I2 = 94%, p < .00001).

Conclusions: No differences in peripheral endothelial function assessed with semi-invasive or non-invasive functional methods exist between cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic subjects. The increasing co-existence of cardiovascular risk factors leading to impaired vascular reactivity in cirrhotic patients may partly explain these findings.

Keywords: cardiovascular risk; cirrhosis; endothelial function; microcirculation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis* / complications
  • Vasodilation*