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J Hepatol. 1997 Jan;26(1):75-80.

Hyperdynamic circulation in patients with cirrhosis: direct measurement of nitric oxide levels in hepatic and portal veins.

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Division of General Medicine A, San Giovanni Battista Hospital, Turin, Italy.



Peripheral vasodilation represents the main vascular dysfunction associated with the hyperdynamic circulation of liver cirrhosis. This study was intended to measure directly regional and systemic levels of nitric oxide, a potent vasorelaxing mediator, in order to assess its role in the development of hemodynamic changes of cirrhosis.


We compared nitric oxide levels in the splanchinic and systemic circulation of 25 patients with cirrhosis undergoing transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt and in the hepatic vein and peripheral blood of 10 patients without cirrhosis submitted to venous catheterization. Nitric oxide levels were measured through electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy as nitrosylhemoglobin complexes.


Significantly higher nitric oxide levels were calculated in patients with cirrhosis with respect to controls, both in the peripheral and hepatic veins. In patients with cirrhosis, nitric oxide levels in the portal vein (3.44 +/- 2.17, expressed in arbitrary units) were higher than in the systemic circulation (1.89 +/- 1.15), but lower than in the hepatic vein (4.75 +/- 2.53; p < 0.001 by variance analysis).


These data suggest that nitric oxide synthetic pathway activity as well as nitric oxide release are enhanced at the level of splanchnic vasculature and, more important, in the hepatic tissue, confirming evidence of the predominant role of nitric oxide in the pathogenesis of hemodynamic changes in patients with cirrhosis with portal hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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