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Different degrees of malnutrition and immunological alterations according to the aetiology of cirrhosis: a prospective and sequential study

Wanda Regina Caly, Edna Strauss, Flair José Carrilho* and Antonio Atílio Laudanna

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Department of Gastroenterology – University of São Paulo School of Medicine, Brazil

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2003, 2:10  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-2-10

Published: 7 October 2003



In this work we investigated how immunological dysfunction and malnutrition interact in alcoholic and viral aetiologies of cirrhosis.


To investigate the matter, 77 cirrhotic patients divided in three aetiologies [Alcohol, HCV and Alcohol + HCV) and 32 controls were prospectivelly and sequentially studied. Parameters of humoral immunity (Components 3 and 4 of seric complement and immunoglobulins A M, G and E) and of cellular immunity (total leukocytes and lymphocytes in peripheral blood, T lymphocytes subpopulations, CD4+ and CD8+, CD4+/CD8+ ratio and intradermic tests of delayed hypersensitivity), as well as nutrititional parameters: anthropometric measures, serum albumin and transferrin were evaluated.


Multiple statistical comparisons showed that IgM was higher in HCV group; IgG was significantly elevated in both HCV and Alcohol + HCV, whereas for the Alcohol group, IgE was found at higher titles. The analysis of T- lymphocytes subpopulations showed no aetiologic differences, but intradermic tests of delayed hypersensitivity did show greater frequency of anergy in the Alcohol group. For anthropometric parameters, the Alcohol +HCV group displayed the lowest triceps skinfold whereas creatinine – height index evaluation was more preserved in the HCV group. Body mass index, arm muscle area and arm fat area showed that differently from alcohol group, the HCV group was similar to control.


Significant differences were found among the main aetiologies of cirrhosis concerning immunological alterations and nutritional status: better nutrition and worse immunology for HCV and vice-versa for alcohol.