Background: Thrombocytopenia is a common finding in advanced liver disease. It is predominantly a result of portal hypertension and platelet sequestration in the enlarged spleen, but other mechanisms may contribute. The liver is the site of thrombopoietin (TPO) synthesis, a hormone that leads to proliferation and differentiation of megakaryocytes and platelet formation. Reduced TPO production further reduces measurable serum platelet counts. Aim: This paper describes the scope of thrombocytopenia in chronic liver disease and assesses the clinical impact in this patient population. Methods: A medline review of the literature was performed pertaining to thrombocytopenia and advanced liver disease. This data is compiled into a review of the impact of low platelets in liver disease. Results: The incidence of thrombocytopenia, its impact on clinical decision making and the use of platelet transfusions are addressed. Emerging novel therapeutics for thrombocytopenia is also discussed. Conclusions: Thrombocytopenia is a common and challenging clinical disorder in patients with chronic liver disease. New therapeutic options are needed to safely increase platelet counts prior to invasive medical procedures as well as to counteract therapies that further exacerbate low platelets, such as interferon. An ideal compound would be orally available and safe, with rapid onset of action.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)