Kupffer cell and hepatocyte function were studied in 36 patients with fulminant hepatic failure by measurement of clearance of 125I microaggregated albumin (125IMAA) and galactose, respectively. Both were impaired but there was no correlation with final outcome, although on sequential testing 48 hours later, those patients who survived had a significantly greater improvement in Kupffer cell and hepatocyte function. In six other patients with similar hepatocyte dysfunction but no encephalopathy, Kupffer cell function was not significantly different from that of controls. This is additional support for a possible relation between encephalopathy and damage to Kupffer cell function. The latter was also shown to correlate with renal failure; this is consistent with the suggestion that endotoxaemia is important in the pathogenesis of this complication.
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