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Serum IgE levels in liver cirrhosis: Contrasting results in alcoholic and non-alcoholic patients

Serum IgE levels in liver cirrhosis: Contrasting results in alcoholic and non-alcoholic patients

Clinical and Experimental Allergy 24(6): 540-548

Hypergammaglobulinemia is a well-known feature of liver cirrhosis, but studies on serum IgE in this setting are limited. The present study evaluates serum IgE concentration in a group of cirrhotic patients and examines their relationship with aetiological, clinical and analytical parameters (including liver function tests and hepatic phagocytic activity). The presence of specific IgE against common dietary antigens was also investigated. Total serum IgE was determined by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) in 52 cirrhotics (27 alcoholic and 25 non-alcoholic, including eight virus B and seven virus C-related cirrhosis, three primary biliary cirrhosis, three cryptogenic, three haemochromatosis and one Wilson's disease) and 34 healthy subjects (used as controls). Serum IgE (IU/ml) in controls was not significantly different from that of cirrhotic patients (median 42, range 2-726 vs median 86, range 2- gt 1000, respectively) (P = NS). However, serum IgE among alcoholics (median 199, range 19- gt 1000) was higher than that of controls (P lt 0.001), virus B-related cirrhotics (median 25, range 3- gt 1000) (P lt 0.05), virus C-related cirrhotics (median 47, range 2-170) (P lt 0.05), or nonalcoholic cirrhotics as a whole (median 23, range 2- gt 1000) (P lt 0.01). High IgE levels ( gtoreq 170 IU/ml) were detected in 55.5% of alcoholics compared with only 12% of non-alcoholic cirrhotics (P lt 0.01). Moreover, IgE levels were very high ( gt 1000 IU/ml) in six patients of the alcoholic group (22.2%) compared with only one non-alcoholic patient (4%). Increased serum IgE levels did not seem to be related to either parameters of liver function (serum bilirubin, albumin, prothrombin or Child-Pugh score), hepatic phagocytic function or other immunoglobulins. Skin-prick tests failed to demonstrate increased sensitization to eight common dietary antigens in the patients studied. On multivariate analysis, only the alcoholic aetiology of the disease correlated with high serum IgE levels. These data suggest that increased serum IgE might be a common and rather specific feature of chronic alcoholic liver disease.

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Accession: 009404173

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PMID: 7922775

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1994.tb00951.x

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