Background/aims: Peripheral arterial vasodilation may be the key factor in the sodium and water retention of cirrhosis. The mechanism responsible for this vasodilation remains to be fully elucidated. Adrenomedullin is a novel peptide, highly expressed in cardiovascular tissues, with potent and long-lasting vasodilating activity.
Methods: The possible implication of adrenomedullin in the hemodynamic changes of cirrhosis has been investigated. We measured the plasma concentration of adrenomedullin in 20 cirrhotic patients and 11 healthy subjects. In addition, systemic, portal and renal hemodynamics, hormonal factors and renal function parameters were evaluated in the same patients.
Results: Circulating adrenomedullin was significantly higher in the group of patients with cirrhosis (72.1; 46-100 vs 21.6; 11-34 fmol/dl, respectively; p<0.02) and was directly correlated with the Pugh score (r: 0.6; p: 0.01), inversely correlated with the creatinine clearance (r: -0.6; p<0.01) and tended to inversely correlate with systemic vascular resistance index (r: -0.46; p: 0.07). There were no portal-peripheral differences in adrenomedullin levels. Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt insertion did not induce changes in the peripheral concentration of adrenomedullin, but baseline values of this hormone predicted the degree of hyperdynamic circulation after TIPS.
Conclusions: Circulating adrenomedullin is increased in cirrhosis. These levels increase with the severity of the disease, especially in patients with hepatorenal syndrome. This peptide may contribute to vasodilation of cirrhosis.