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Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012 May;5(3):189-97. doi: 10.1177/1756283X12437357.

Vasopressin V2-receptor antagonists in patients with cirrhosis, ascites and hyponatremia.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA.


Hyponatremia is a common problem in patients with advanced cirrhosis. It develops slowly (paralleling the rate of progression of the liver disease) and usually produces no neurological symptoms, although it may exacerbate hepatic encephalopathy. For patients awaiting liver transplantation a low serum sodium level is a strong predictor of pretransplant mortality, independent of the Model for End-stage Liver Disease score (MELD). The pathogenesis of hyponatremia is related to the hemodynamic changes and secondary neurohormonal adaptations that occur in patients with cirrhosis and ascites. The nonosmotic release of arginine vasopressin is the principle cause of the hyponatremia and vasopressin-receptor antagonists are a new class of drugs recently approved for treatment of cirrhotic hyponatremia. In this article we review the safety and efficacy of V2-receptor antagonists in patients with cirrhosis, ascites and hyponatremia.


ascites; cirrhosis; hepatorenal syndrome; hyponatremia; lixivaptan; portal hypertension; satavaptan; tolvaptan; vasopressin

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