Bacterial translocation markers in liver cirrhosis

Authors Alexandra Alexopoulou, Danai Agiasotelli, Larisa E. Vasilieva, Spyros P. Dourakis.


Bacterial translocation (BT) is an important mechanism in the development of infection in liver cirrhosis. The migration and colonization of bacteria and/or bacterial products from the bowel to mesenteric lymph nodes is a controlled process in healthy persons. Increased intestinal permeability, bacterial overgrowth and defect of gut-associated lymphatic tissue promote impaired BT in cirrhotics. We reviewed the reports on markers used for the evaluation of BT published between 1987 and 2016. We focused on the clinical consequences of BT in cirrhosis, as indicated by the values of the BT markers. Patients with cirrhosis are reported to have elevated levels of surrogate markers associated with BT compared with controls. The most widely used BT parameters are C-reactive protein, procalcitonin, bacterial DNA, endotoxin or lipopolysaccharide, lipopolysaccharide binding protein, calprotectin, and bactericidal/permeability increasing protein. High levels of these factors in serum and/or ascitic fluid in humans may be associated with advanced liver disease, hemodynamic instability, high levels of proinflammatory cytokines, susceptibility to the development of severe or recurrent infections, acute-on-chronic liver failure, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome and poor prognosis during follow up. In conclusion, high levels of BT markers are associated with a high inflammatory response, increased complications of liver cirrhosis and occasionally high fatality rates.

Keywords C-reactive protein, bacterial DNA, lipopolysaccharide binding protein, calprotectin, bactericidal/permeability increasing protein, soluble form of receptor for lipopolysaccharide

Ann Gastroenterol 2017; 30 (5): 486-497

Review Articles