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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Jul;297(1):G27-33. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.90405.2008. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Endothelin antagonism in portal hypertensive mice: implications for endothelin receptor-specific signaling in liver disease.

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Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, The University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-8887, USA.


Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoactive peptide, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of liver disease and portal hypertension. Two major endothelin receptors (ET-A and ET-B) mediate biological effects, largely on the basis of their known downstream signaling pathways. We hypothesized that the different receptors are likely to mediate divergent effects in portal hypertensive mice. Liver fibrosis and cirrhosis and portal hypertension were induced in 8-wk-old male BALB/c mice by gavage with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Portal pressure was recorded acutely during intravenous infusion of endothelin receptor antagonists in normal or portal hypertensive mice. In vivo microscopy was used to monitor sinusoidal dynamics. Additionally, the effect of chronic exposure to endothelin antagonists was assessed in mice during induction of fibrosis and cirrhosis with CCl4 for 8 wk. Intravenous infusion of ET-A receptor antagonists into normal and cirrhotic mice reduced portal pressure whereas ET-B receptor antagonism increased portal pressure. A mixed endothelin receptor antagonist also significantly reduced portal pressure. Additionally, the ET-A receptor antagonist caused sinusoidal dilation, whereas the ET-B receptor antagonist caused sinusoidal constriction. Chronic administration of each the endothelin receptor antagonists during the induction of fibrosis and portal hypertension led to reduced fibrosis, a significant reduction in portal pressure, and altered sinusoidal dynamics relative to controls. Acute effects of endothelin receptor antagonists are likely directly on the hepatic and sinusoidal vasculature, whereas chronic endothelin receptor antagonism appears to be more complicated, likely affecting fibrogenesis and the hepatic microcirculation. The data imply a relationship between hepatic fibrogenesis or fibrosis and vasomotor responses.

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