Enhanced cyclooxygenase-1 expression within the superior mesenteric artery of portal hypertensive rats: Role in the hyperdynamic circulation


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Portal hypertension (PHT) is characterized by splanchnic hyperemia due to enhanced production of vasodilator substances. Enhanced vasodilation and increased splanchnic blood flow contribute to the elevated portal pressure characteristic of PHT. The aim of this study was to determine whether cyclooxygenase (Cox) expression is altered in PHT vessels and whether chronic inhibition of this enzyme impacts on splanchnic blood flow in PHT. PHT was created in Sprague-Dawley rats by a partial portal vein ligation. Control animals were sham operated. Plasma 6-keto-PGF1α (prostaglandin F1α) levels were significantly elevated in PHT after 2 days as compared with sham and remained elevated up to day 15. Treatment with indomethacin (2 mg/kg ip daily for 15 days) resulted in a significant decrease in 6-keto-PGF1α levels, which was concomitant with a significant decrease in superior mesenteric artery blood flow (Qsma) after 15 days in PHT rats. Cox-I expression was differentially enhanced in the PHT superior mesenteric artery and thoracic aorta during the development and progression of PHT. In contrast, Cox-II messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression was not detected in either of these vessels throughout the development of PHT. These data suggest that PHT is associated with enhanced Cox-I expression within the splanchnic vasculature concomitant with elevated plasma prostacyclin levels and a significant pressor response to indomethacin in PHT animals. We conclude that enhanced Cox-I expression results in increased prostacyclin levels that partially contribute to the maintenance of the hyperemia typical of PHT.