Targeting 5-Hydroxytryptamine Receptor 1A in the Portal Vein to Decrease Portal Hypertension

Gastroenterology. 2024 Jun 19:S0016-5085(24)05062-5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2024.06.007. Online ahead of print.


Backgrounds & aims: Portal hypertension (PH) is one of the most frequent complications of chronic liver disease. The peripheral 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) level was increased in cirrhotic patients. We aimed to elucidate the function and mechanism of 5-HT receptor 1A (HTR1A) in the portal vein (PV) on PH.

Methods: PH models were induced by thioacetamide injection, bile duct ligation, or partial PV ligation. HTR1A expression was detected using real-time polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization, and immunofluorescence staining. In situ intraportal infusion was used to assess the effects of 5-HT, the HTR1A agonist 8-OH-DPAT, and the HTR1A antagonist WAY-100635 on portal pressure (PP). Htr1a-knockout (Htr1a-/-) rats and vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC)-specific Htr1a-knockout (Htr1aΔVSMC) mice were used to confirm the regulatory role of HTR1A on PP.

Results: HTR1A expression was significantly increased in the hypertensive PV of PH model rats and cirrhotic patients. Additionally, 8-OH-DPAT increased, but WAY-100635 decreased, the PP in rats without affecting liver fibrosis and systemic hemodynamics. Furthermore, 5-HT or 8-OH-DPAT directly induced the contraction of isolated PVs. Genetic deletion of Htr1a in rats and VSMC-specific Htr1a knockout in mice prevented the development of PH. Moreover, 5-HT triggered adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate pathway-mediated PV smooth muscle cell contraction via HTR1A in the PV. We also confirmed alverine as an HTR1A antagonist and demonstrated its capacity to decrease PP in rats with thioacetamide-, bile duct ligation-, and partial PV ligation-induced PH.

Conclusions: Our findings reveal that 5-HT promotes PH by inducing the contraction of the PV and identify HTR1A as a promising therapeutic target for attenuating PH. As an HTR1A antagonist, alverine is expected to become a candidate for clinical PH treatment.

Keywords: 5-Hydroxytryptamine; Alverine; HTR1A; Portal Hypertension; Portal Vein Smooth Muscle Cells.