Regulation of hepatic blood flow: the hepatic arterial buffer response revisited

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Dec 28;16(48):6046-57. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i48.6046.


The interest in the liver dates back to ancient times when it was considered to be the seat of life processes. The liver is indeed essential to life, not only due to its complex functions in biosynthesis, metabolism and clearance, but also its dramatic role as the blood volume reservoir. Among parenchymal organs, blood flow to the liver is unique due to the dual supply from the portal vein and the hepatic artery. Knowledge of the mutual communication of both the hepatic artery and the portal vein is essential to understand hepatic physiology and pathophysiology. To distinguish the individual importance of each of these inflows in normal and abnormal states is still a challenging task and the subject of ongoing research. A central mechanism that controls and allows constancy of hepatic blood flow is the hepatic arterial buffer response. The current paper reviews the relevance of this intimate hepatic blood flow regulatory system in health and disease. We exclusively focus on the endogenous interrelationship between the hepatic arterial and portal venous inflow circuits in liver resection and transplantation, as well as inflammatory and chronic liver diseases. We do not consider the hepatic microvascular anatomy, as this has been the subject of another recent review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Volume
  • Buffers*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Hepatic Artery / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver / blood supply*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / surgery
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / surgery
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Regional Blood Flow*


  • Buffers