Background and aims: Progressive fibrosis increases hepatic resistance and causes portal hypertension with complications. During progressive fibrosis remodeling and deposition of collagens and elastin occur. Elastin remodeling is crucially involved in fibrosis progression in animal models and human data. This study investigated the association of circulating elastin with the clinical outcome in cirrhotic patients with severe portal hypertension receiving transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt (TIPS).

Methods: We analyzed portal and hepatic venous samples of 110 cirrhotic patients obtained at TIPS insertion and 2 weeks later. The circulating levels of elastin fragments (ELM) were determined using specific monoclonal ELISA. The relationship of ELM with clinical short-time follow-up and long-term outcome was investigated.

Results: Circulating levels of ELM showed a gradient across the liver before TIPS with higher levels in the hepatic vein. Interestingly, the circulating ELM levels remained unchanged after TIPS. The circulating levels of ELM in portal and hepatic veins correlated with platelet counts and inversely with serum sodium. Hepatic venous levels of ELM were higher in CHILD C compared to CHILD A and B and were associated with the presence of ascites. Patients with high levels of ELM in the hepatic veins before TIPS showed poorer survival. In multivariate analysis ELM levels in the hepatic veins and MELD were independent predictors of mortality in these patients.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that circulating levels of ELM are not associated with hemodynamic changes, but might reflect fibrosis remodeling and predict survival in patients with severe portal hypertension receiving TIPS independently of MELD.

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