Serum haptoglobin levels have been measured in 115 cases of widely differing liver disease. Although low levels were found in some cases of cirrhosis and a number of patients with obstructive jaundice had increased levels, 70% of the values fell within the normal range. The estimation was of no help in distinguishing between intra- and extrahepatic obstructive jaundice. A characteristic pattern was observed in infective hepatitis, and a falling serum haptoglobin in the presence of increasing jaundice is diagnostic of the latter condition. The cause of these changes is uncertain. Low levels could not be accounted for by increased red cell breakdown and there was no correlation with the serum albumin level.
Prednisolone therapy produced a rise in serum haptoglobin level in cirrhosis, which was accompanied by an improvement in liver function. Temporary rises in level were observed in intrahepatic obstructive jaundice and were probably due to a non-specific effect of prednisolone. In the latter condition norethandrolone therapy was often associated with high levels.
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