• α-smooth muscle actin;
  • endothelin-1;
  • hepatic stellate cell;
  • small-for-size liver transplantation


Background and Aim:  Small-for-size grafts are prone to mechanical injury and a series of chemical injuries that are related to hemodynamic force. Hepatic stellate cells activate and trans-differentiate into contractile myofibroblast-like cells during liver injury. However, the role of hepatic stellate cells on sinusoidal microcirculation is unknown with small-for-size grafts.

Methods:  Thirty-five percent of small-for-size liver transplantation was performed with rats as donors and recipients. Endothelin-1 levels as well as hepatic stellate cells activation-related protein expression, endothelin-1 receptors, and ultrastructural changes were examined. The cellular localizations of two types of endothelin-1 receptors were detected. Furthermore, liver function and sinusoidal microcirculation were analyzed using two different selective antagonists of endothelin-1 receptor.

Results:  Intragraft expression of hepatic stellate cells activation-related protein such as desmin, crystallin-B and smooth muscle α-actin was upregulated as well as serum endothelin-1 levels and intragraft expression of the two endothelin receptors. The antagonist to endothelin-1 A receptor not to the endothelin-1 B receptor could attenuate microcirculatory disturbance and improve liver function.

Conclusions:  Small-for-size liver transplantation displayed increased hepatic stellate cells activation and high level of endothelin-1 binding to upregulation of endothelin-1 A receptor on hepatic stellate cells, which contracted hepatic sinusoid inducing graft injury manifested as reduction of sinusoidal perfusion rate and elevation of sinusoidal blood flow.