Opioid receptor antagonist promotes angiogenesis in bile duct ligated rats


Professor Ahmad Reza Dehpour, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 13145-784, Tehran, Iran. Email: dehpoura@sina.tums.ac.ir


Background and Aim:  Angiogenesis, formation of new capillaries from existing vasculature, plays a pivotal role in different pathological states such as many chronic inflammatory diseases including the chronic liver diseases. There is increasing evidence demonstrating accumulation of endogenous opioids and their role in the pathophysiology and manifestations of cholestasis, the main feature of a number of chronic progressive liver diseases. Hence, we investigated the significance of endogenous opioids in angiogenesis in an experimental model of cholestasis.

Methods:  Cholestasis was induced in male Sprague–Dawley rats by bile duct ligation and resection. Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist (20 mg/kg/day) was administered to cholestatic animals for 22 ± 1 days. The serial sections from liver tissue were stained with von Willebrand Factor antibody and micro-vessel density was assessed by calculating mean micro-vessel number in three hot spots high power microscopic fields.

Results:  Naltrexone treatment in bile duct ligated rats led to a marked increase in the micro-vessel number (6.34 ± 0.21 vs 5.61 ± 0.22) (P < 0.05), which had already increased during cholestasis.

Conclusion:  In order to clarify the impacts of opioid system blockade in cirrhosis, our findings demonstrate the promoting role of opioid antagonist in angiogenesis in a rat model of cholestasis.