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Gastroenterology. 1983 Aug;85(2):275-82.

Portal vein ligation selectively lowers hepatic cytochrome P450 levels in rats.


In rats, surgical creation of a portacaval shunt leads to hepatic atrophy and lowered levels of cytochrome P450, the key component of liver enzymes involved with drug metabolism. These effects are largely attributable to diversion of portal blood away from the liver and not to decreased hepatic blood flow. The present study has established a simpler model of portal blood diversion in order to examine the role of portal blood constituents in the regulation of hepatic cytochrome P450. Portal vein ligation was performed on male Wistar rats in which portasystemic anastomoses had been produced by subcutaneous transposition of the spleen. Portal vein ligation resulted in portal hypertension, as evidenced by splenomegaly, and in hepatic atrophy. In liver of rats with portal vein ligation, microsomal cytochrome P450 levels were significantly less than in sham-operated control rats, but cytochrome b5, NADPH-cytochrome c reductase, and glucose-6-phosphatase were unaltered. The activities of four mixed function oxidases also were reduced significantly in the liver of rats with portal vein ligation, the changes being greatest for ethylmorphine N-demethylase, a prototype substrate for the phenobarbital-inducible isoenzyme of cytochrome P450. In contrast, the activity of microsomal heme oxygenase, the rate-limiting step in catabolism of heme to bilirubin, was enhanced after portal vein ligation. Experiments in pair-fed rats showed that the changes observed in liver from rats with portal vein ligation could not be attributed to caloric deprivation. Administration of phenobarbital increased liver mass, cytochrome P450 levels, and mixed function oxidase activities both in rats with portal vein ligation and in controls, indicating that the liver of the ligated rats retained considerable protein synthetic capacity. It appears that hepatic atrophy and lowering of cytochrome P450 levels that follow portal vein ligation are consequences of altered exposure of the liver to factors normally present in portal blood, and that the same alterations may also enhance heme oxygenase activity.

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