Hypersplenism in liver disease and SLE revisited: Current evidence supports an active rather than passive process

John M. Gemery, Andrew R. Forauer, Anne M. Silas, Eric K. Hoffer

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5 Scopus citations


Background: Active and passive theories have been advanced to explain splenomegaly and cytopenias in liver disease. Dameshek proposed active downregulation of hematopoiesis. Doan proposed passive trapping of blood components in a spleen enlarged by portal hypertension. Recent findings do not support a passive process. Discussion: Cytopenias and splenomegaly in both liver disease and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) poorly correlate with portal hypertension, and likely reflect an active process allocating stem cell resources in response to injury. Organ injury is repaired partly by bone-marrow-derived stem cells. Signaling would thus be needed to allocate resources between repair and routine marrow activities, hematologic and bone production. Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) may play a central role: mobilizing stem cells, increasing spleen size and downregulating bone production. Serum G-CSF rises with liver injury, and is elevated in chronic liver disease and SLE. Signaling, not sequestration, likely accounts for splenomegaly and osteopenia in liver disease and SLE. The downregulation of a non-repair use of stem cells, bone production, suggests that repair efforts are prioritized. Other non-repair uses might be downregulated, namely hematologic production, as Dameshek proposed. Summary: Recognition that an active process may exist to allocate stem-cell resources would provide new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of cytopenias in liver disease, SLE and potentially other illnesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalBMC Hematology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology

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