Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Thursday 25 April 2013: New data from clinical studies presented for the first time at the International Liver Congress 2013 provide new rationale for an old and established treatment option for portal hypertension. Additionally, spleen stiffness predicts the occurrence of clinical complications, which is of paramount importance in clinical practice.
In patients with cirrhosis, increasing blood pressure in the abdominal circulatory system (known as portal hypertension) leads to potentially lethal complications which might be prevented with simple medical treatment. Patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension have increased gastrointestinal permeability which allows the movement of bacteria or bacterial components through the lining of the gut into the blood stream in a process known as bacterial translocation. Bacterial components such as lipopolysaccharide can be involved in the genesis of complications of cirrhosis.
The first study evaluated the effects of a non-selective beta-blocker (NSBB) on gastrointestinal permeability and bacterial translocation in patients with cirrhosis with high levels of portal hypertension.1 Patients with severe portal hypertension (HVPG* ≥20mmHg) had increased markers of gastrointestinal permeability and bacterial translocation compared to patients with lower levels of portal hypertension (HVPG<20mmHg). Treatment with NSBB significantly reduced HVPG, improved gastrointestinal permeability and decreased bacterial translocation (LPS-binding protein (LBP) -16% p=0.018; IL-6 -41% p< 0.0001) levels.
Patients who were found to have the highest levels of gastrointestinal permeability were also found to be at most risk of bleeding from oesophageal varices; a complication of cirrhosis which carries a high risk of mortality.
These findings provide a new rationale for the use of non-selective beta-blockers in patients with cirrhosis. EASL's Treasurer Prof. Mauro Be
|Contact: Dimple Natali|
European Association for the Study of the Liver