Hepatic and circulating endothelin-1 (ET-1) are increased in patients with cirrhosis and in cirrhotic animals. However, the distinct roles of ET receptor subtypes ETA and ETB in cirrhosis and portal hypertension (PHT) have not been clearly elucidated. Thus, we studied the effects of selective ET-1 antagonists (ETA-ant or ETB-ant) and nonselective ET-1 antagonist (ETA/B-ant) on hepatic hemodynamics in cirrhotic rats. Liver fibrosis and PHT were induced by complete bile duct ligation (BDL) in rats. Two weeks after BDL or sham surgery, hemodynamic responses were measured during intraportal infusion of incremental doses of the following ET-ants: (i) BQ-123, (ii) BQ-788, and (iii) bosentan. After equilibration with vehicle, doses of ET-ants were infused for 30 min periods, and steady-state systemic and hepatic hemodynamics, portal venous pressure (PVP), and hepatic blood flow (HBF) were measured. BDL induced significant PHT and elevated concentrations of plasma ET-1 compared with sham. ETA-ant decreased PVP of cirrhotic rats but had no effect on sham, whereas ETB-ant increased PVP in sham but had no effect in BDL. Nonselective ETA/B-ant decreased PVP of BDL similarly to ETA-ant. Both ETA-ant and ETB-ant decreased local HBF, whereas a nonselective antagonist did not change HBF in sham; however no significant changes were observed in HBF of BDL rats with any of the antagonists. These findings suggest ETA activation contributes to PHT in cirrhotic rats, whereas ETB-mediated portal depressor effects are attenuated in cirrhotic rats compared with noncirrhotic rats.
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