To clarify the role of c-Mpl ligand (thrombopoietin: TPO) in liver cirrhosis (LC), we examined serum TPO levels (sTPO) in patients with LC (N = 44), chronic hepatitis (CH; N = 13) and healthy controls (N = 41) by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Although platelet counts of all LC patients (89 ± 59 X 109/l; mean ± SD) were lower than those of controls and CH patients, sTPO levels in LC patients (1.23 ± 0.51 fmol/ml) were the same as those in controls (1.22 ± 0.37) and CH patients (1.18 ± 0.36). Platelet counts were significantly higher in splenectomized patients than in unsplenectomized patients, but the sTPO level did not differ between these two groups. In LC patients, the sTPO level was not correlated with the platelet count, but was correlated with prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, and total bilirubin, indicating that production of TPO in the liver decreases slightly with the development of liver dysfunction. Our findings suggest that production of TPO is maintained in LC patients and their thrombocytopenia is not due to a defect in platelet production.
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