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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2001 Apr;36(4):423-5.

Ammonia and endogenous benzodiazepine-like compounds in the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Ospedale di Susa, Torino, Italy.



Ammonia and endogenous benzodiazepines (BDZs) are two of the most important agents among those taken into consideration in the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy (HE).


Venous ammonia and endogenous BDZs sera levels were assayed in 58 liver cirrhosis patients (34 male, 24 female) free of commercial BDZs. Endogenous BDZs were measured by binding assay after high-performance liquid chromatography purification. Ammonia was assessed by colorimetric test.


Endogenous BDZs and ammonia were significantly higher in Child-Pugh class C than in class B and class A (P < 0.05), correlating to the severity of the liver dysfunction but not with the degree of HE. A significant difference, in fact, was noted between degree 0 (no HE) versus III-IV of HE (P < 0.05), but not between degrees I-II versus III-IV. Regression analysis performed to find a correlation between the ammonia and BDZ levels in HE resulted negative.


Clinical evidence is provided in cirrhotic patients that ammonia and endogenous BDZ levels do not correlate with each other in the outcome of HE.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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