A return to harmful alcohol consumption impacts on portal hemodynamic changes following alcoholic hepatitis

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Abstract

Background

Increased hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) plays a role in the clinical manifestations of alcoholic hepatitis (AH). The evolution of HVPG and the influence of alcohol use in the intermediate term are unclear.

Aim

The aim of this study was to explore HVPG modifications following AH taking into consideration alcohol use and clinical manifestations.

Patients and methods

Patients with AH (n=37; age 52 years; model for end-stage liver disease: 18.5; Maddrey score: 43) and chronic excessive drinkers with compensated cirrhosis (n=19; age: 54 years; model for end-stage liver disease: 9.2) underwent HVPG measurement and liver biopsy. Ten long-standing abstinent alcoholic cirrhotics served as controls. After discharge, patients were monitored for alcohol use and clinical complications, with repeated HVPG after a median duration of 100 days. Inflammation was determined using plasma C-reactive protein.

Results

At baseline, compared with chronic excessive drinkers and alcoholic cirrhotics, patients with AH had increased HVPG (18.1±0.6 vs. 13.8±1.4 vs. 15±1.3 mmHg, P<0.05). During follow-up, patients who became abstinent or reported occasional drinking were more likely to achieve a greater than 20% reduction in HVPG compared with those returning to harmful alcohol (45 vs. 0%, P<0.01), and suffered from fewer complications (25 vs. 68%, P<0.03). High baseline C-reactive protein levels correlated to the Maddrey (r=0.38), but no relationship was observed between changes in inflammation and HVPG.

Conclusion

Elevated HVPG is a feature of AH, with a clinically significant reduction in values in abstinent or occasional drinkers after weeks of follow-up. A return to harmful alcohol has a negative impact on portal hemodynamics and associated clinical complications.

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