Cirrhotic rats have an increased susceptibility to ethanol-induced gastric injury, related to an inability to mount a defensive gastric hyperemic response to luminal irritants, and associated with an impaired reactivity of the gastric microcirculation to nitric oxide (NO)/cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent vasodilators. Whether this hyporesponsiveness is in some way related to depressed prostaglandin synthesis by the stomach of cirrhotic rats is not clear. The aims of this study were to evaluate the role of NO and prostaglandins in the regulation of the gastric microcirculation under resting conditions and in response to administration of sodium nitroprusside, as well as to investigate the mechanisms of the hyporesponsiveness of the gastric microcirculation to nitrovasodilators. Cirrhosis was induced in rats by bile duct ligation, and controls had sham-operation. NG-nitro-L-arginine-methyl-ester (L- NAME) and indomethacin administration produced a greater reduction in gastric blood flow in cirrhotic rats than controls. Indomethacin pretreatment almost completely abolished the responsiveness to sodium nitroprusside (NaNP) in cirrhotic rats, while not affecting controls. Long-term administration of misoprostol to cirrhotic rats restored to normal the responsiveness to NaNP, whereas long-term administration of aspirin to healthy rats resulted in a hyporesponsiveness of the gastric microcirculation to NaNP similar to that seen in cirrhotic rats. We conclude that there are interactions between NO and prostaglandins in regulating gastric blood flow in both healthy and cirrhotic rats. The hyporesponsiveness of the gastric microcirculation of cirrhotic rats to a nitrovasodilator may occur as a consequence of prolonged depression of gastric prostaglandin synthesis.
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