Update on adrenal insufficiency in patients with liver cirrhosis.
World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan 28;19(4):445-56
Authors: Trifan A, Chiriac S, Stanciu C
Liver cirrhosis is a major cause of mortality worldwide, often with severe sepsis as the terminal event. Over the last two decades, several studies have reported that in septic patients the adrenal glands respond inappropriately to stimulation, and that the treatment with corticosteroids decreases mortality in such patients. Both cirrhosis and septic shock share many hemodynamic abnormalities such as hyperdynamic circulatory failure, decreased peripheral vascular resistance, increased cardiac output, hypo-responsiveness to vasopressors, increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines [interleukine(IL)-1, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha] and it has, consequently, been reported that adrenal insufficiency (AI) is common in critically ill cirrhotic patients. AI may also be present in patients with stable cirrhosis without sepsis and in those undergoing liver transplantation. The term hepato-adrenal syndrome defines AI in patients with advanced liver disease with sepsis and/or other complications, and it suggests that it could be a feature of liver disease per se, with a different pathogenesis from that of septic shock. Relative AI is the term given to inadequate cortisol response to stress. More recently, another term is used, namely "critical illness related corticosteroid insufficiency" to define "an inadequate cellular corticosteroid activity for the severity of the patient's illness". The mechanisms of AI in liver cirrhosis are not completely understood, although decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high levels of proinflammatory cytokines and circulatory endotoxin have been suggested. The prevalence of AI in cirrhotic patients varies widely according to the stage of the liver disease (compensated or decompensated, with or without sepsis), the diagnostic criteria defining AI and the methodology used. The effects of corticosteroid therapy on cirrhotic patients with septic shock and AI are controversial. This review aims to summarize the existing published information regarding AI in patients with liver cirrhosis.
PMID: 23382623 [PubMed - in process]