Interstitial collagen formation and transformation of the fenestrated hepatic sinusoids into continuous capillaries are major ultrastructural changes that occur in liver cirrhosis and fibrosis. These modifications lead to progressive restriction of blood–liver exchanges. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the permeability changes in a model of hepatic fibrosis by using dynamic computed tomography (CT) enhanced with contrast agents of different molecular masses. Dynamic single-section CT of the liver was performed after intravenous bolus administration of a low-molecular-mass contrast agent (iobitridol) and an experimental high-molecular-mass agent (P840) in normal control rabbits and in rabbits with hepatic fibrosis. Hepatic, aortic and portal venous time–density curves were fitted with a dual-input one-compartmental model to calculate the hepatic mean transit time and distribution volume of the contrast agents. In the rabbits with liver fibrosis, the mean transit time of the high-molecular-mass agent was shorter than that of the low-molecular-mass agent (10.0±1.8s and 12.0±1.2s respectively; P<0.05). The distribution volume accessible to the high-molecular-mass agent was also smaller (22.2±4.8% compared with 32.0±6.7%; P<0.01). In the normal rabbits, the mean transit times of the high- and low-molecular-mass agents did not differ significantly, and nor did their distribution volumes. Our results demonstrate decreased sinusoidal permeability for the high-molecular-mass agent P840 in a model of hepatic fibrosis. Non-invasive assessment of permeability changes in liver fibrosis can be performed with dynamic CT and contrast agents of different molecular masses.

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