Hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a lung complication in various liver diseases, with high incidence, poor prognosis and no effective non-surgical treatments in patients with hepatocirrhosis. Therefore, assessing HPS pathogenesis to explore proper therapy strategies is clinically relevant. In the present study, male Sprague–Dawley rats underwent sham operation or common bile duct ligation (CBDL). Two weeks post-surgery, the following groups were set up for 2 weeks of treatment: sham + normal saline, CBDL + CXCR2 antagonist SB225002, CBDL + tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) antagonist PTX and CBDL + normal saline groups. Liver and lung tissues were collected after mean arterial pressure (MAP) and portal venous pressure (PVP) measurements. Haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining (lung) and Masson staining (liver) were performed for pathological analyses. Finally, pulmonary tissue RNA and total protein were assessed for target effectors. The mRNA and protein levels of CXCR2 were significantly increased in the pulmonary tissue of CBDL rats. What's more, CXCR2 inhibition by SB225002 reduced the expression of CD68 and von Willebrand factor (vWf) in CBDL rats. Importantly, CXCR2 inhibition suppressed the activation of Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in CBDL rats. Antagonization of TNF-α with PTX down-regulated the expression of CXCR2. During HPS pathogenesis in rats, CXCR2 might be involved in the accumulation of pulmonary intravascular macrophages and angiogenesis, possibly by activating Akt and ERK, with additional regulation by TNF-α that enhanced pulmonary angiogenesis by directly acting on the pulmonary tissue. Finally, the present study may provide novel targets for the treatment of HPS.

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