Background/aims: Endothelin-1 has been suggested to play a key role in cirrhotic portal hypertension, but a role of its receptors in vivo is not fully elucidated.
Methods: Biliary cirrhosis was induced by bile duct ligation. Expressions of endothelin-1 and its receptors were evaluated by radioimmunoassay and/or reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Hemodynamics were studied using endothelin receptor agonist or antagonist.
Results: Portal pressure and hepatic endothelin-1 concentrations progressively increased in parallel after bile duct ligation. Gene expression of hepatic prepro-endothelin-1 and endothelin B receptor enhanced after bile duct ligation, while that of endothelin A receptor was unchanged. Intraportal administration of endothelin-1 or endothelin B receptor agonist sarafotoxin 6c (0.5 nmol/kg, respectively) progressively raised portal pressure in both sham and cirrhotic rats. Portal hypertensive effect of sarafotoxin 6c was more intense in cirrhotic rats than sham animals. Neither endothelin A receptor antagonist FR139317 (1 mg/kg) nor endothelin B receptor antagonist BQ788 (1 mg/kg) alone ameliorated cirrhotic portal hypertension. Only the combined endothelin A and B blockade was associated with a decrease in portal pressure in cirrhotic rats.
Conclusions: These results indicate that endothelin-1 plays a major role in cirrhotic portal hypertension through endothelin receptor subtype B together with subtype A in vivo.