Significance of hepatic arterial responsiveness for adequate tissue oxygenation upon portal vein occlusion in cirrhotic livers
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We investigated sinusoidal blood flow and hepatic tissue oxygenation during portal vein occlusion in cirrhotic rat livers to examine the effect of cirrhosis on the properties of hepatic microvascular blood flow regulation. After 8 weeks of CCl4/phenobarbital sodium treatment to induce cirrhosis Sprague-Dawley rats were prepared surgically to allow assessment of portal venous and hepatic arterial inflow using miniaturized flow probes with simultaneous analysis of hepatic microcirculation and tissue oxygenation by fluorescence microscopy and polarographic oxymetry. Age-matched noncirrhotic animals served as controls. Upon portal vein occlusion in cirrhotic livers (flow reduction to <20%), hepatic arterial blood flow increased 1.5-fold (61±8 ml/min per 100 g liver) of baseline (40±7 ml/min per 100 g liver), reflecting an appropriate hepatic arterial buffer response (HABR), similarly as seen in control livers. The net result was a reduction in total liver inflow from 90±12 to 72±11 ml/min per 100 g liver, which was associated with a significant decrease in both sinusoidal red blood cell velocity and volumetric blood flow to approx. 71% and 76% of baseline values. However, portal vein occlusion did not cause a deterioration in hepatic tissue pO2 (11±3 vs. 10±3 mmHg at baseline). Sinusoidal diameters were found unchanged, disproving a major role of the sinusoidal tone in the regulation of HABR. Microvascular response of cirrhotic livers did not generally differ from that in noncirrhotic livers upon portal inflow restriction. We conclude that HABR in cirrhotic livers operates sufficiently to meet the liver tissue oxygen demand, most probably by an increased relative contribution of arterial perfusion of hepatic sinusoids.
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