Methionine enkephalin and catecholamines were measured in carefully collected plasma samples from 25 patients with cirrhosis and ascites, and 25 with cirrhosis without ascites, 15 disease and 15 healthy controls. Methionine enkephalin was invariably raised in the ascites group, the median value being 4.6-6.9 times that of the other three groups. Similarly, in the ascites group, median noradrenaline was increased 2.5-4.2 and median adrenaline 1.8-2.5 times that of the other groups. Plasma methionine enkephalin is considerably raised in patients with cirrhotic ascites and has actions which could enable it to be an initiating factor of ascites formation.
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