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Impact of intrinsic blood flow regulation in cirrhosis: maintenance of hepatic arterial buffer response.

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Institute for Clinical and Experimental Surgery, University of Saarland, Germany.


The hepatic arterial buffer response (HABR) effectively controls total blood perfusion in normal livers, but little is known about blood flow regulation in cirrhosis. We therefore studied the impact of HABR on blood perfusion of cirrhotic livers in vivo. After 8-wk CCl(4) treatment to induce cirrhosis, 18 anesthetized rats (and 18 noncirrhotic controls) were used to simultaneously assess portal venous and hepatic arterial inflow with miniaturized ultrasonic flow probes. Stepwise hepatic arterial blood flow (HAF) or portal venous blood flow (PVF) reduction was performed. Cirrhotic livers revealed a significantly reduced total hepatic blood flow (12.3 +/- 0.9 ml/min) due to markedly diminished PVF (7.3 +/- 0.8 ml/min) but slightly increased HAF (5.0 +/- 0.6 ml/min) compared with noncirrhotic controls (19.0 +/- 1.6, 15.2 +/- 1.3, and 3.8 +/- 0.4 ml/min). PVF reduction caused a significant HABR, i.e., increase of HAF, in both normal and cirrhotic livers; however, buffer capacity of cirrhotic livers exceeded that of normal livers (P < 0.05) by 1. 7- to 4.5-fold (PVF 80% and 20% of baseline). Persistent PVF reduction for 1, 2, and 6 h demonstrated constant HABR in both groups. Furthermore, HABR could be repetitively provoked, as analyzed by intermittent PVF reduction. HAF reduction did not induce changes of portal flow in either group. Because PVF is reduced in cirrhosis, the maintenance of HAF and the preserved HABR must be considered as a protective effect on overall hepatic circulation, counteracting impaired nutritive blood supply via the portal vein.

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