Portal hypertension (PH), a pathophysiological derangement of liver cirrhosis, is characterized by hyperdynamic circulation, angiogenesis, and portosystemic collaterals. These may lead to lethal complications, such as variceal bleeding. Caffeine has been noted for its effects on liver inflammation, fibrogenesis, and vasoreactiveness. However, the relevant influences of caffeine in cirrhosis and PH have not been addressed. Spraque-Dawley rats with common bile duct ligation-induced cirrhosis or sham operation received prophylactic or therapeutic caffeine treatment (50 mg/kg/day, the first or 15th day since operation, respectively) for 28 days. Compared to vehicle (distilled water), caffeine decreased cardiac index, increased systemic vascular resistance, reduced portal pressure (PP), superior mesenteric artery flow, mesenteric vascular density, portosystemic shunting (PSS), intrahepatic angiogenesis, and fibrosis without affecting liver and renal biochemistry. The beneficial effects were reversed by selective adenosine A1 agonist N6-cyclopentyladenosine (CPA) or A2A agonist GCS21680. Both prophylactic and therapeutic caffeine treatment decreased portal resistance and PP in thioacetamide (200mg/kg, thrice-weekly for 8 weeks)-induced cirrhotic rats. Caffeine down-regulated endothelial nitric oxide synthase, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), phospho-VEGFR2, and phospho-Akt mesenteric protein expression. Caffeine adversely affected viability of hepatic stellate and sinusoidal endothelial cells, which was reversed by CPA and GCS21680. On the other hand, caffeine did not modify vascular response to vasoconstrictors in splanchnic, hepatic, and collateral vascular beds.
Conclusions: Caffeine decreased PP, ameliorated hyperdynamic circulation, PSS, mesenteric angiogenesis, hepatic angiogenesis, and fibrosis in cirrhotic rats. Caffeine may be a feasible candidate to ameliorate PH-related complications in cirrhosis.
© 2015 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.