Background/aims: Correlations between serum levels of soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors p55 (TNFsRp55) and Child Pugh index have previously been reported in alcoholic patients with cirrhosis. We have undertaken this study to improve understanding of the role of tumor necrosis factor soluble receptors (TNFsRs) in alcoholic liver disease.
Methods: One hundred and two patients with alcoholic liver disease of various severity (23 pure steatosis, 22 fibrosis, seven acute alcoholic hepatitis without cirrhosis, 12 cirrhosis without acute alcoholic hepatitis, 14 cirrhosis with mild acute alcoholic hepatitis and 24 cirrhosis with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis) were studied. Blood was collected on EDTA and plasma was tested for TNFsR concentrations using ELISA assays.
Results: Plasma levels of TNFsRp55 and p75 increased progressively with the severity of liver disease, reaching a maximum in cirrhotic patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis. Plasma levels of TNFsRp55 in patients with fibrosis and of TNFsRp75 in patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis without cirrhosis were already higher than in healthy controls. In cirrhotic patients with or without acute alcoholic hepatitis TNFsRp55 and p75 were significantly increased compared with controls. In cirrhotic patients, plasma levels of TNFsRp55 correlated positively with all parameters of liver injury, whereas the TNFsRp75/ TNFsRp55 ratio correlated negatively. In cirrhotic patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis, the TNFsRp75/TNFsRp55 ratio was significantly lower than in all other groups. In cirrhotic patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis treated by prednisolone, the decrease in TNFsRp55 plasma levels between day 1 and day 15 was significantly more important in patients still alive at 2 months than in patients who died within 2 months.
Conclusions: These results show that the expression of TNF-soluble receptors (TNFsRs) participates in the early phases of the alcoholic liver disease and that the TNFsRp75/TNFsRp55 ratio and plasma levels of TNFsRp55 may help to determine the diagnosis and the prognosis of severe acute alcoholic hepatitis in cirrhotics.