Increased ascitic level of hyaluronan in liver cirrhosis

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Hyaluronan (HA) is a polysaccharide that forms a critical component of extracellular matrixes. It is present in high concentrations in tissues undergoing remodeling and morphogenesis. Serum HA is elevated in patients with chronic liver disease, and this has been considered to be caused by impaired degradation by the liver endothelial cells. We studied the level of HA in the ascitic fluid and plasma from 27 patients with cirrhotic ascites. These values were compared with peritoneal dialysate effluent (PDE) and plasma from 33 patients with uremia who were undergoing continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). The median HA levels in ascitic fluid and plasma from our 26 patients with cirrhosis were significantly higher than corresponding PDE and plasma values from the 33 CAPD patients (p< 0.0001). The median peritoneal/plasma ratios of creatinine, albumin, and immunoglobulin G in either cirrhotic or CAPD patients were less than unity. In contrast, the median peritoneal/plasma ratios of HA in both groups of patients exceeded one with a higher peritoneal/plasma ratio of HA in patients with cirrhosis (p = 0.0035). A significant correlation was observed between the ascitic level of HA and interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, or transforming growth factor-β. Our in vitro cell culture studies revealed that HA is synthesized by both mesothelial cells and macrophages. We observed an additive effect in the synthesis of HA by mesothelial cells when the macrophage-conditioned medium was added to the RPMI culture medium. We conclude that a high level of HA is found in ascites from patients with cirrhosis. Our results strongly suggest that simultaneous increased synthesis of HA by the peritoneal cells and a reduction of degradation by liver endothelial cells occur in these patients with cirrhosis with ascites. This event of increased HA synthesis may be contributory to remodeling and regeneration of the peritoneal lining.

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