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J Hepatol. 1999 Mar;30(3):451-5.

Von Willebrand factor could be an index of endothelial dysfunction in patients with cirrhosis: relationship to degree of liver failure and nitric oxide levels.

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  • 1Sección de Higado, Laboratorio Central, Hospital Italiano, Buenos Aires, Argentina.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between plasma levels of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a marker of endothelial cell activation, and nitric oxide, a powerful vasodilator synthesized by endothelial cells, in 27 patients with cirrhosis at different stages of the disease. These results were compared with those of age-matched normal, healthy subjects (n=10).


vWF:antigen was measured by electro-immunodiffusion test and serum nitrite and nitrate levels, the stable end products of nitric oxide metabolism, were determined by an enzymatic procedure.


vWF:antigen and nitrite/nitrate levels were significantly higher in cirrhotic patients (367+/-185% and 29.3+/-10.8 micromol/l) than in healthy subjects (92+/-20% and 19.2+/-8.3 micromol/l, p<0.05, respectively). Higher levels of vWF:antigen and nitrites/nitrates were observed in patients with more advanced degrees of liver failure, as reflected by quantitative Child-Pugh's score (516+/-154% and 38.3+/-7.8 micromol/l in Child-Pugh > or = 9 vs 227+/-61% and 21.0+/-6.1 micromol/l in Child-Pugh <9, p<0.001, respectively). Moreover, both endothelial-related factors were higher in patients with ascites than those without ascites (543+/-158% and 37.8+/-8.9 micromol/l vs 262+/-103% and 24.4+/-8.8 micromol/l, p<0.001, respectively). In the overall series, a highly significant linear correlation between nitrites/nitrates and vWF:antigen levels was observed in patients with cirrhosis (r=0.79, p<0.001).


These results support a cirrhosis-related endothelial dysfunction and suggest that plasma vWF measurement could be useful as a marker of endothelial disturbance in patients with cirrhosis.

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