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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 28

of 'Classification and causes of jaundice or asymptomatic hyperbilirubinemia'

Increased intestinal permeability and altered mucosal immunity in cholestatic jaundice.
Welsh FK, Ramsden CW, MacLennan K, Sheridan MB, Barclay GR, Guillou PJ, Reynolds JV
Ann Surg. 1998;227(2):205.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of cholestatic jaundice on gut barrier function.
SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Gut barrier failure occurs in animal models of jaundice. In humans, the presence of endotoxemia indirectly implicates failure of this host defense, but this has not previously been investigated in jaundiced patients.
METHODS: Twenty-seven patients with extrahepatic obstructive jaundice and 27 nonicteric subjects were studied. Intestinal permeability was measured using the lactulose-mannitol test. Small intestinal morphology and the presence of mucosal immunologic activation were examined in endoscopic biopsies of the second part of the duodenum. Systemic antiendotoxin core IgG antibodies and serum interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein were also quantified. Intestinal permeability was remeasured in 9 patients 5 weeks after internal biliary drainage.
RESULTS: The median lactulose-mannitol ratio was significantly increased in the jaundiced patients. This was accompanied by upregulation ofHLA-DR expression on enterocytes and gut-associated lymphoid tissue, suggesting immune activation. A significant increase in the acute phase response and circulating antiendotoxin core antibodies was also observed in the jaundiced patients. After internal biliary drainage, intestinal permeability returned toward normal levels.
CONCLUSIONS: A reversible impairment in gut barrier function occurs in patients with cholestatic jaundice. Increased intestinal permeability is associated with local immune cell and enterocyte activation. In view of the role of gut defenses in the modern paradigm of sepsis, these data may directly identify an important underlying mechanism contributing to the high risk of sepsis in jaundiced patients.
Department of Pathology, St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, England.