Aims: The present study assessed whether the serum concentrations of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) and cytokines are altered in patients with fulminant hepatitis and whether plasma exchange affects these concentrations. Methods: Fifteen patients with fulminant hepatitis, 14 patients with severe acute hepatitis, and 20 healthy controls were included in this study. The serum levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 1β (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), and TIMP-1 were determined in all patients upon hospital admission and before and after a single course of plasma exchange in the patients with fulminant hepatitis. Results: Ten out of the 15 patients with fulminant hepatitis and all patients with severe acute hepatitis survived. Serum TNF-α, IL-6, TGF-β, and TIMP-1 levels in patients with fulminant hepatitis were significantly higher than the levels in patients with severe acute hepatitis (p < 0.01). IL-1β was not detectable in either group. Plasma exchange reduced the increased serum concentrations of TNF-α, IL-6, TGF-β, and TIMP-1 in patients with fulminant hepatitis (p < 0.01). Conclusions: These data suggest that increased serum levels of TIMP-1 and cytokines may reflect severe hepatic inflammation and that plasma exchange is an effective therapy to reduce these levels.

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