Patients with chronic active hepatitis or alcoholic cirrhosis have serum antibodies to many more serotypes of Escherichia coli than do patients with primary biliary cirrhosis or cryptogenic cirrhosis, or normal controls. They also have antibodies against more serotypes than cirrhotic patients with a portacaval shunt. These observations suggest that factors other than shunting of blood away from the liver are responsible for the increased range of antibodies. These factors are discussed. There was no correlation between the number of serotypes to which antibodies were present and the serum immunoglobulin concentration. In three patients, each with chronic active hepatitis, the antibodies were predominantly of the IgM class, while the elevation of globulin in general was mainly due to increased IgG and IgA levels. Antibodies to Escherichia coli, therefore, probably contribute only a small part of the increased globulin levels found in patients with chronic liver disease.
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