Aim: Variceal bleeding may lead to infectious complications in patients with liver failure. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of variceal bleeding on T-cell subsets of patients with cirrhosis.
Patients and Methods: The study included 21 patients with biopsy proven liver cirrhosis, that were admitted to the hospital. Six of them were admitted to the Hospital due to variceal bleeding (group 2) while the rest 15 were free of bleeding (group 1) and were admitted due to another cause. T-cell subsets (Total T-cells [CD3], helper T-cells [CD4], suppressor T-cells [CD8] and Natural Killer cells [CD56]) were measured upon admission and day 3, by using flow cytometry.
Results: The absolute number of T-cell subsets in group 1 vs group 2 were the following (mean ± SEM): Admission=CD3: 565±88 vs 507±197, CD56: 160±37 vs 95±14 (P<0.05) CD4: 379±60 vs 311±143, CD8: 192±35 vs 172±56, Day 3 = CD3: 565±88 vs 259±62: (P<0.05) CD56: 160±37 Vs 60±13, CD4: 379±60 vs 178±36 (P<0.05), CD8: 192±35 vs 111±62.
Conclusions: It seems that variceal bleeding may cause immunosuppression through a significant decrease of Natural Killer cells, as well as a decrease in total and helper T-cells. This may compromise immune response and may be associated with the observed increased in the frequency of infectious complications in cirrhotic patients, complicated with variceal bleeding.
Keywords: Cirrhosis, Bacterial infections, Variceal bleeding, T cells