Anandamide mediates hyperdynamic circulation in cirrhotic rats via CB1 and VR1 receptors


Liver Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Rm 1721, 3330 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1. E-mail:


Background and purpose:

Hyperdynamic circulation and mesenteric hyperaemia are found in cirrhosis. To delineate the role of endocannabinoids in these changes, we examined the cardiovascular effects of anandamide, AM251 (CB1 antagonist), AM630 (CB2 antagonist) and capsazepine (VR1 antagonist), in a rat model of cirrhosis.

Experimental approach:

Cirrhosis was induced by bile duct ligation. Controls underwent sham operation. Four weeks later, diameters of mesenteric arteriole and venule (intravital microscopy), arterial pressure, cardiac output, systemic vascular resistance and superior mesenteric artery (SMA) flow were measured after anandamide, AM251 (with or without anandamide), AM630 and capsazepine administration. CB1, CB2 and VR1 receptor expression in SMA was assessed by western blot and RT-PCR.

Key results:

Anandamide increased mesenteric vessel diameter and flow, and cardiac output in cirrhotic rats, but did not affect controls. Anandamide induced a triphasic arterial pressure response in controls, but this pattern differed markedly in cirrhotic rats. Pre-administration of AM251 blocked the effects of anandamide. AM251 (without anandamide) increased arterial pressure and systemic vascular resistance, constricted mesenteric arterioles, decreased SMA flow and changed cardiac output in a time-dependent fashion in cirrhotic rats. Capsazepine decreased cardiac output and mesenteric arteriolar diameter and flow, and increased systemic vascular resistance in cirrhotic rats, but lacked effect in controls. Expression of CB1 and VR1 receptor proteins were increased in cirrhotic rats. AM630 did not affect any cardiovascular parameter in either group.

Conclusions and implications:

These data suggest that endocannabinoids contribute to hyperdynamic circulation and mesenteric hyperaemia in cirrhosis, via CB1- and VR1-mediated mechanisms.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2006) 149, 898–908. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706928