• diabetes mellitus;
  • endothelin-1;
  • intrahepatic vascular response;
  • liver cirrhosis


Background & Aims

Cirrhosis is characterized by increased intrahepatic vascular resistance and enhanced vasocontractile responsiveness that impedes portal inflow and elevates portal pressure, in which endothelin-1 (ET-1) plays a role. Diabetes and glucose influence vasoresponsiveness but their impact on the intrahepatic vascular bed in cirrhosis is unknown. To investigate intrahepatic ET-1 vasoresponsiveness in cirrhotic rats with and without diabetes and to explore the underlying mechanisms.


Spraque-Dawley rats received common bile-duct ligation (BDL) to induce cirrhosis. Streptozotocin was injected to induce diabetes in the BDL rats (BDL/STZ). In situ liver perfusion was performed to obtain the ET-1 concentration-response curves. The basic hemodynamics and hepatic protein expressions of ET-1 receptors, pERK, ERK, pAkt, Akt, iNOS, eNOS, peNOS and calmodulin were evaluated. The circulating concentrations of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-ProBNP), blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine were also determined.


Body weight, mean arterial pressure, heart rate and survival rate were significantly decreased in the BDL/STZ rats. The perfusion pressure changes in response to ET-1 were higher in the BDL/STZ group for all perfusates. ETA receptor and pERK expressions were enhanced in the BDL/STZ group. The circulating concentrations of NT-ProBNP, BUN and creatinine, as well as SMA flow, were not significantly different between the BDL and BDL/STZ groups.


Cirrhotic rats with diabetes showed higher intrahepatic ET-1 vasoresponsiveness than normoglycemic cirrhotic rats. This effect is not affected by changes in perfused glucose concentration and may be related, at least in part, to intrahepatic ETAR receptor and pERK over-expression.