Mesenteric vascular bed responsiveness in bile duct-ligated rats: roles of opioid and nitric oxide systems

K Namiranian, M Samini, S E Mehr, S A Gaskari, H Rastegar, H Homayoun, A R Dehpour
European Journal of Pharmacology 2001 July 6, 423 (2): 185-93
Changes in vascular responsiveness are proposed as the basis for some of the cardiovascular complications in cholestasis. Cholestasis is also associated with accumulation of endogenous opioid peptides and evidence of overproduction of nitric oxide (NO). The possible role of NO or opioid system in cholestasis-induced mesenteric vascular bed responsiveness was investigated. Bile duct-ligated and sham-operated rats were treated for 6 days with either normal saline, naltrexone, an opioid antagonist (20 mg/kg/day) or L-NAME (N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester), a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor (3 mg/kg/day). After 7 days, the superior mesenteric artery was cannulated and the mesenteric vascular bed was perfused according to the McGregor method. Baseline perfusion pressure of the mesenteric vascular bed was decreased in bile duct-ligated compared to sham-operated animals. ED(50) of phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction was increased, but vasoconstriction R(max) was not different in the vascular bed of bile duct-ligated rats and of sham-operated ones. Acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation was impaired in bile duct-ligated rats (increased ED(50) and decreased vasorelaxation R(max)). Sodium nitroprusside-induced vasorelaxation was not different between bile duct-ligated and sham-operated rats, implying that the smooth muscle components of vasorelaxation were intact. Chronic treatment with L-NAME partially restored both the acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation and phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction response in bile duct-ligated rats. Naltrexone treatment also partially restored the acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation and phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction in bile duct-ligated rats. There is impaired acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation in cholestatic rats, probably due to a defect in endothelial function. This study also provided evidence for the involvement of increased opioidergic tone and NO overproduction in cholestasis-induced vascular hyporesponsiveness.

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