In cirrhosis there is a hyperdynamic circulation, which occurs mainly in the systemic and splanchnic regions. Using isolated-vessel models, previous studies have shown reduced aortic reactivity to vasoconstrictors in rats with cirrhosis. The aim of the present study was to evaluate and compare the vascular responsiveness to phenylephrine in arterial rings and the blood flows from different regions in rats with cirrhosis and controls. Reactivity was studied in isolated thoracic aortic, superior mesenteric arterial and carotid arterial rings from sham-operated and bile-duct-ligated rats by measuring the cumulative concentration-dependent tension induced by phenylephrine (10-9–10-4 M). Blood flows were measured by the radioactive microsphere method. In rats with cirrhosis, a significant hyporeactivity to phenylephrine was observed in both the aorta and the superior mesenteric artery compared with the corresponding arteries of normal rats. This hyporesponsiveness was corrected by Nω-nitro-l-arginine (0.1 mM). In contrast, carotid artery reactivity and the responses to Nω-nitro-l-arginine were similar in the cirrhotic and control groups. In each case, cardiac output and mesenteric arterial blood flow were significantly higher in cirrhotic than in normal rats. Cerebral blood flows were not significantly different between the two groups. In cirrhotic rats, arterial hyporeactivity may be a consequence of increased regional blood flow and increased production of nitric oxide.

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