1 The effects of inhibiting endogenous nitric oxide (NO) synthesis with NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) on the systemic and splanchnic circulation have been investigated in rats with experimental chronic portal hypertension, anaesthetized with ketamine.
2 Portal hypertension was induced by partial portal vein ligation, 2 weeks prior to study. This procedure induced a reduction in systemic arterial blood pressure (MAP), an increase in cardiac output as measured by radiolabelled microspheres, a reduction in peripheral and splanchnic vascular resistance and an increased portal venous inflow (PVI) and portal pressure, as compared to control non-ligated rats.
3 L-NMAA (6.25 and 50 mg kg−1, i.v.) dosedependently increased MAP, reduced cardiac output and PVI, and increased peripheral and splanchnic vascular resistance. With L-NMMA (50 mg kg−1), PVI and the vascular resistances returned to values comparable to those determined in control non-ligated anaesthetized rats under resting conditions.
4 Porto-collateral resistance was also increased by these doses of L-NMMA, whereas portal pressure was unchanged. The increase in renal blood flow and decrease in renal vascular resistance also seen in portal-hypertensive rats was reversed by L-NMMA (50 mg kg−1).
5 These effects of L-NMMA (50 mg kg−1) were inhibited by prior administration of L-arginine (300 mg kg−1, i.v.).
6 These findings indicate that the chronic hyperdynamic circulatory characteristics following portal vein stenosis can be attenuated by L-NMMA. Thus, the excessive formation of endogenous NO may be implicated in the pathogenesis of the haemodynamic disturbances and splanchnic vasodilatation associated with chronic portal hypertension.