Background/aims: Increased plasma endothelin levels have been reported in patients with cirrhosis. However, the relationship between plasma endothelin concentrations and hyperdynamic circulation or renal functions has not been documented.
Methods: We measured the plasma endothelin-1 and endothelin-3 concentrations using radioimmunoassay in 96 patients with cirrhosis (Pugh's A in 26, Pugh's B in 45 and Pugh's C in 25) and compared these values to 56 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Systemic and portal hemodynamic measurements, effective renal plasma flow, creatinine clearance, plasma aldosterone concentration and plasma renin activity were recorded for each patient.
Results: Plasma endothelin-1 and endothelin-3 levels were significantly increased in patients with cirrhosis compared to healthy subjects. Additionally, plasma endothelin-1 and endothelin-3 values were higher in patients with cirrhosis and ascites than in those without ascites. Moreover, plasma endothelin-1 levels increased in relation to the severity of cirrhosis. On the other hand, modest negative correlations were found between endothelin-1 and creatinine clearance or effective renal plasma flow.
Conclusions: Plasma endothelin-1 and endothelin-3 levels are increased in patients with cirrhosis compared to healthy subjects. The increase in plasma endothelin-1 levels is related at least in part to the severity of cirrhosis. Increased endothelin-1 levels may possibly contribute to renal dysfunction in patients with cirrhosis.