To investigate the role of nitric oxide (NO) with respect to kidney function and liver cirrhosis, we evaluated renal function, as well as cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) and NOx (nitrite/nitrate [NO3− /NO2−]) as indirect markers of NO formation in plasma and urine at rest and during amino acid (aa)-induced glomerular hyperfiltration in patients with Child A liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension (n = 12), and in healthy controls (n = 10). Baseline filtration rate (GFR) and effective renal plasma flow (ERPF) were significantly lower in patients with cirrhosis than in controls (GFR: mean 88 ± SD 16 mL/min vs. 106 ± 15 mL/min, P = .01, ERPF: 477 ± 93 vs. 561 ± 72 mL/min, P = .002). In both groups amino acid (aa) infusion increased GFR, ERPF, as well as cGMP and urinary NOx. Changes in GFR were similar in cirrhotic patients and controls (28.3% ± 14% in cirrhotics and 26% ± 11% in controls), but the degree of aa-induced changes in ERPF was more marked in patients with liver cirrhosis (31.8% ± 17% vs. 18.6% ± 12%, P = .02). Plasma levels of NOx and cGMP were similar in either group at baseline and during aa infusion, whereas NOx and cGMP excretion in cirrhotics was constantly 14% to 24% lower than in the control group. We conclude that patients with compensated liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension already have an impaired kidney function. In addition our data suggest a cirrhosis-related dissociation between ERPF and GFR during aa stimulation. Further studies are warranted to find out whether a local imbalance between vasoconstrictors and vasodilators, e.g., decreased local NO formation, plays a key role for this phenomenon.
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