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Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 Jun;17(3):357-67.

Gastrointestinal disorders of the critically ill. Cholestasis of sepsis.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, 982000 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-2000, USA.


Cholestasis of sepsis is a form of hepatocellular cholestasis that occurs as a result of sepsis. Usually, prior to the development of cholestasis, the manifestations of sepsis dominate the clinical picture. The occurrence of cholestasis is without direct bacterial involvement of the biliary system and appears to be mediated systemically by pro-inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines are released in response to the vigorous inflammatory reaction mediated by endotoxinaemia and bacterial wall lipopolysaccharides. The principal cytokines involved are the pro-inflammatory tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL) 1-beta and IL-6. Interplay between these cytokines and a series of hepatocyte membrane transporters appears to result in the cholestasis. Management principles focus upon the control of sepsis.

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