Circulating immune complexes were found in 15 of 16 patients with fulminant hepatic failure due to viral hepatitis and all of six patients who had had halothane anaesthesia; however, they were found in only five of 32 patients with paracetamol-induced hepatic necrosis. The levels of circulating immune complexes were not related to the severity of the clinical course, development of renal failure, final outcome, or severity of hypocomplementaemia. All the patients had depressed reticuloendothelial function as assessed by the clearance of 125I microaggregated albumin. These findings show that circulating immune complexes in fulminant hepatic failure are not simply a reflection of an immune response to liver antigens released as a result of the hepatic necrosis; nor are they a reflection of the failure of the reticuloendothelial system. This supports the view that circulating immune complexes are associated with immune mediated liver injury and may contribute to the process.
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