Background/aims: Interleukin-8 (IL-8), a cytokine produced by a host of cells, including monocytes, macrophages, Kupffer cells and hepatocytes, can activate neutrophils. Peripheral neutrophilia and liver neutrophil infiltration are frequently noted in patients with alcoholic liver disease. However, the relationship between IL-8 and different stages of alcoholic liver disease is uncertain. The aim of this study is to determine if a correlation exists between circulating IL-8 levels and biochemical and histological parameters and survival in alcoholic liver disease.
Methods: Serum levels of IL-8 were determined with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 166 subjects, consisting of 30 healthy controls, 26 patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver, 15 with alcoholic fatty liver, 32 with alcoholic hepatitis, 30 with alcoholic cirrhosis, 28 with chronic hepatitis B and 5 with chronic hepatitis C.
Results: Serum IL-8 levels were markedly elevated in patients with alcoholic hepatitis (437 +/- 51 pg/ml) when compared with all other groups (p < 0.05). Levels of IL-8 in patients with alcoholic fatty liver, alcoholic cirrhosis and viral hepatitis were higher than those in controls and in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver. In addition, IL-8 levels were higher in patients who died (p = 0.007), and correlated with biochemical and histological parameters, and severity of liver injury: serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, total bilirubin, prothrombin time, indocyanine green retention ratio, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and peripheral neutrophil count in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. After a 2-year follow up, patients with IL-8 above 479 pg/ml had a higher mortality rate in the alcoholic hepatitis group (p = 0.033).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that IL-8 is activated in alcoholic liver disease, especially in alcoholic hepatitis, and is closely correlated with liver injury. IL-8 levels can reflect the stage and severity of alcoholic liver disease, and may serve as a predictor of survival in patients with alcoholic hepatitis.