BACKGROUND AND AIM - The mechanism responsible for thrombocytopenia in chronic liver diseases (CLD) is not yet fully understood. The prevalence of thrombocytopenia has been reported to be higher in patients with hepatitis C virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma (CLD-C) than in those with hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma (CDC-B). We have examined the potential difference in thrombocytopenia between patients with CLD-B and those with CLD-C in terms of liver fibrosis adjustment and splenomegaly.
METHODS - The study cohort consisted of 102 patients with CLD-B and 143 patients with CLD-C were enrolled. Liver stiffness, which is reported to be well correlated with the degree of liver fibrosis, was measured by transient elastography.
RESULTS - The analysis of covariance with liver stiffness as a covariate revealed that the platelet count was lower in CLD-C patients than in CLD-B patients. Following stratification for liver stiffness, thrombocytopenia was found to be more severe in CLD-C patients than CLD-B patients with advanced liver stiffness, whereas the degree of splenomegaly was not significantly different. The plasma thrombopoietin level was not different between CLD-B and CLD-C patients with advanced liver stiffness, and the immature platelet number was lower in CLD-C patients despite thrombocytopenia being more severe in these patients.
CONCLUSIONS - CLD-C patients with advanced liver stiffness presented with more severe levels of thrombocytopenia than CLD-B patients even with the same grade of splenomegaly. Impaired platelet production rather than enhanced platelet destruction may underlie the mechanism responsible for thrombocytopenia in patients with CLD.