Increased plasma tumor necrosis factor in severe alcoholic hepatitis
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver that is characterized by a yellowing of the eyes and skin, an enlargement of the liver, abdominal discomfort, fever, kidney failure, increased white blood cell count, and a decreased appetite. This condition may caused by a number of things, including chronic alcoholism. Almost 57 percent of patients hospitalized for alcoholic liver disease had symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis. The death rate for these patients severely ill is approximately 60 percent within the first month of hospitalization. Recently, tumor necrosis factor, a protein secreted by white blood cells that modulates the immune system, has been implicated in the initiation or perpetuation of liver damage. Many of the actions of tumor necrosis factor mimic the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis. A recent study was performed to see if tumor necrosis factor is involved in the development of alcoholic hepatitis. Twenty-one patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis had blood levels of tumor necrosis factor measured. Plasma endotoxin, a strong stimulator of tumor necrosis factor released from white blood cells, was also measured, along with interleukin-1B levels. Interleukin-1B is a protein released from white blood cells in response to endotoxin and causes fever and increased levels of white cells in the blood. Patients with alcoholic hepatitis had higher tumor necrosis factor levels than normal patients or patients with less severe forms of liver disease. There was no correlation between plasma tumor necrosis factor levels and endotoxin or interleukin-1B levels. This study indicates that tumor necrosis factor may play a role in the development of alcoholic hepatitis. (Consumer Summary produced by Reliance Medical Information, Inc.)
Publication Name: Annals of Internal Medicine
Ascarids, American Indians, and the modern world: parasites and the prehistoric record of a pharmacological tradition
Ancient Native Americans utilized a certain variety of the chenopodium plant as a cure for ascarids and other related worm infections. Archaeological research indicates that prehistoric Native American communities utilized chenopodium based concoctions as a vermifuge and as a main item in their diet. This has validated earlier archaeological claims of worm-related maladies in ancient Native American communities.
Publication Name: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
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