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Hepatology. 1995 Dec;22(6):1666-73.

Increased production of nitric oxide by neutrophils and monocytes from cirrhotic patients with ascites and hyperdynamic circulation.

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Istituto di Medicina Interna, University of Florence, School of Medicine, Italy.


An increased release of nitric oxide (NO), a powerful vasodilating agent, has been proposed to play a role in the pathogenesis of vasodilation and hyperdynamic circulation associated with advanced cirrhosis. We evaluated NO synthase (NOS) activity in peripheral leukocytes of 12 cirrhotic patients and 9 healthy subjects together with plasma endotoxin levels and systemic hemodynamic (by a noninvasive echocardiographic method). NOS activity was evaluated by (1) measuring the capacity of isolated polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs) and monocytes to convert [3H]arginine to [3H]citrulline; (2) measuring the ability of neutrophils and monocytes to inhibit thrombin-induced platelet aggregation and to increase guanosine 3'-5'-cyclic monophosphate content in coincubated platelets, an expression of NO release from these cells. Both neutrophils and monocytes from cirrhotic patients produced significantly higher amounts of [3H]citrulline than cells obtained from healthy subjects (P < .001 and P < .02 for neutrophils and monocytes, respectively) and were more effective than control cells in inhibiting platelet aggregation (P < .05 and P < .001, respectively for 2 x 10(6) cells) and in increasing guanosine 3'-5'-cyclic monophosphate content in coincubated platelets (P < .05 and P < .001, respectively). The anti-aggregating activity expressed by leukocytes has a pharmacological profile similar to that described for NO, because it increased after addition of superoxide dismutase, a superoxide anion scavenger, and markedly decreased after inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis with NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) and NG-nitro-L-arginine-methyl ester (L-NAME). Cirrhotic patients had significantly higher plasma endotoxin levels (P < .001) and cardiac index (P < .01) when compared with controls.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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