Cardiopulmonary dysfunction in cirrhosis

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1999 Jun;14(6):600-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1746.1999.01920.x.


Cirrhosis is associated with several circulatory abnormalities. These include hyperkinetic systemic and splanchnic circulation, hepatopulmonary syndromes including pulmonary hypertension, and cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. Hepatopulmonary syndrome generally refers to hypoxaemia seen in patients with chronic liver disease and appears to be relatively common, although often subclinical. However, significant pulmonary hypertension occurs in 0.2-0.7% of cirrhotic patients. Nitric oxide and/or other vasodilators appear to be involved in the pathogenesis of hepatopulmonary syndrome through induction of pulmonary capillary dilatation which increases the alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient. Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy refers to abnormal left ventricular function which is manifested under conditions of physiological or pharmacological stress. The emergence of liver transplantation as an effective treatment for end-stage liver disease has led to recognition of previously subclinical cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure accounts for significant morbidity and mortality after this procedure. Diminished myocardial beta-adrenergic receptor function has been shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of this condition. The contributions of other factors including nitric oxide, catecholamines and membrane fluidity changes are under investigation. Cirrhotic patients also have an increased incidence of other cardiac abnormalities, such as endocarditis and pericardial effusions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomyopathies / complications*
  • Cardiomyopathies / metabolism
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endocarditis / complications
  • Hepatopulmonary Syndrome / complications*
  • Hepatopulmonary Syndrome / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Pericarditis / complications
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism


  • Catecholamines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Nitric Oxide