The Clinical Spectrum of Hepatic Manifestations in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia in the Western world, characterized by the presence of long-lived circulating leukemic cells in the peripheral blood that may infiltrate all organs, particularly those of the reticulo-endothelial system. Liver enlargement and elevation of liver enzymes related to specific involvement by the underlying disease are well-recognized features in these patients. In CLL, the differential diagnosis of liver disorders is broad and includes liver infiltration by leukemic cells, immunologic manifestations associated with CLL, primary and secondary hepatic malignancies, drug-induced hepatotoxicity, infections, and Richter transformation. The above conditions can cause serious and even fatal complications such as acute liver failure. The aim of this study was to summarize all available published literature on hepatic manifestations encountered in CLL. This review contains sections on liver enlargement because of leukemic infiltration, autoimmune-induced hepatic dysfunction, acute liver failure, drug-induced liver toxicity, and associated malignancies. A high index of clinical suspicion and appropriate diagnostic evaluation, including liver biopsy in special circumstances, are important for both accurate diagnosis and deciding on the most appropriate treatment to prevent the development of fatal complications of acute liver failure.

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