Objectives: Results of studies on plasma endothelin concentrations in patients with cirrhosis are conflicting. Moreover, the relationships between plasma endothelin concentrations and the severity of cirrhosis have not yet been studied. The aim of this study was to measure plasma endothelin concentrations in controls and in patients with cirrhosis. In addition, this study examined the relationships between plasma endothelin concentrations, and the severity of liver disease, splanchnic and systemic hemodynamics.
Methods: Plasma endothelin concentrations (in the hepatic vein and the right atria), hepatic venous pressures, arterial pressure, cardiac output, pulmonary pressures and plasma concentrations of sodium and creatinine were measured in 7 controls and 28 patients with cirrhosis.
Results: Plasma endothelin concentrations in the hepatic vein and the right atria were significantly higher in patients with cirrhosis (18.9 +/- 2.9 and 20.2 +/- 3.1 pg/mL, respectively) than in controls (6.1 +/- 1.1 and 7.2 +/- 1.1 pg/mL, respectively). In these patients, hepatic venous plasma endothelin concentrations were significantly correlated with Pugh's score (r = 0.49), hepatic venous pressure gradient (r = -0.44), and plasma sodium concentrations (r = -0.46). No significant correlation was found between plasma endothelin concentrations and systemic hemodynamics.
Conclusion: Plasma endothelin concentrations are increased in patients with cirrhosis. Moreover, this increase is more marked in patients with severe liver disease than in patients with no or moderate impairment of liver function.