Advanced liver disease is associated with a persistent inflammatory state, derived from abnormal bacterial translocation from the gut, which may contribute to the development of sarcopenia in cirrhosis. We aim to document the association of chronic inflammation and bacterial translocation with the presence of sarcopenia in cirrhosis. We prospectively followed cirrhotic patients aged 18–70 years with medically refractory ascites at a single tertiary care center in Toronto, Canada. The baseline data included patient demographic variables, the presence of bacterial DNA in serum/ascitic fluid, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) status, and nutritional assessment. Thirty-one patients were enrolled, 18 (58.1%) were sarcopenic, 9 (29%) had bacterial DNA in serum and ascites fluid. The mean MELD score was 11.5 ± 4.0 (6–23). Sarcopenic and non-sarcopenic patients did not differ significantly in their baseline MELD scores, caloric intake, resting energy expenditure, the incidence of bacterial translocation, or SIRS. While sarcopenia was not linked to increased hospital admissions or death, it was strongly associated with increased episodes of acute kidney injury (3 vs. 0, p = 0.05). This pilot study did not demonstrate an association between sarcopenia and SIRS or bacterial translocation. These results should be confirmed in future larger studies, encompassing a greater number of chronic inflammation events and quantifying levels of bacterial DNA.
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