Systemic infusion of angiotensin II exacerbates liver fibrosis in bile duct–ligated rats


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Recent evidence indicates that the renin–angiotensin system (RAS) plays a major role in liver fibrosis. Here, we investigate whether the circulatory RAS, which is frequently activated in patients with chronic liver disease, contributes to fibrosis progression. To test this hypothesis, we increased circulatory angiotensin II (Ang II) levels in rats undergoing biliary fibrosis. Saline or Ang II (25 ng/kg/h) were infused into bile duct–ligated rats for 2 weeks through a subcutaneous pump. Ang II infusion increased serum levels of Ang II and augmented bile duct ligation–induced liver injury, as assessed by elevated liver serum enzymes. Moreover, it increased the hepatic concentration of inflammatory proteins (tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 1β) and the infiltration of CD43-positive inflammatory cells. Ang II infusion also favored the development of vascular thrombosis and increased the procoagulant activity of tissue factor in the liver. Livers from bile duct–ligated rats infused with Ang II showed increased transforming growth factor β1 content, collagen deposition, accumulation of smooth muscle α-actin–positive cells, and lipid peroxidation products. Moreover, Ang II infusion stimulated phosphorylation of c-Jun and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase and increased proliferation of bile duct cells. In cultured rat hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), Ang II (10−8 mol/L) increased intracellular calcium and stimulated reactive oxygen species formation, cellular proliferation and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Moreover, Ang II stimulated the procoagulant activity of HSCs, a newly described biological function for these cells. In conclusion, increased systemic Ang II augments hepatic fibrosis and promotes inflammation, oxidative stress, and thrombogenic events. (HEPATOLOGY 2005;41:1046–1055.)