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Hepatology. 1994 Sep;20(3):611-7.

Hemodynamic effects of alpha-adrenergic blockade with prazosin in cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Clinica Puerta de Hierro, Madrid, Spain.


This study was aimed at investigating whether the blockade of alpha 1-adrenergic receptors could reduce portal pressure in cirrhosis. Splanchnic and systemic hemodynamics were measured in 12 cirrhotic patients with esophageal varices at baseline and 1 hr after oral administration of 2 mg of prazosin (acute study). Measurements were repeated in 10 of these 12 patients after a 3-mo course of 5 mg/12 hr of prazosin (long-term study). Short-term prazosin significantly lowered the hepatic venous pressure gradient from 20.1 +/- 1.3 to 14.4 +/- 0.9 mm Hg (-25.7%) (p < 0.01), and chronic prazosin reduced it to 16.5 +/- 1.3 mm Hg (-19.1%) (p < 0.01). Hepatic blood flow was increased, thus changes in the hepatic venous pressure gradient resulted from a reduction in the estimated hepatic vascular resistance. Reductions in hepatic venous pressure gradient achieved after short-term and long-term prazosin were not significantly different. Reductions in mean arterial pressure and systemic vascular resistance were significantly greater after short-term than after long-term prazosin. Long-term prazosin was associated with significant increases in hepatic and intrinsic hepatic clearances of indocyanine green. This therapy also led to an increase in pulmonary capillary pressure (+ 28.6%, p < 0.05) and body weight (+ 3.06%, p < 0.01) and a decrease in hematocrit (-6.1%, p < 0.05) and urinary sodium excretion (-22.6%, p < 0.05). In contrast, there were no hemodynamic changes in a group of six cirrhotic patients receiving placebo. In cirrhotic patients, short-term prazosin lowers portal pressure by decreasing hepatic vascular resistance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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